Electric vehicle charging stations will be rolled out across the state of Oklahoma

Planning is underway on how to implement a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations that will give drivers the confidence that they can drive anywhere in the state without travel more than 50 miles to recharge.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that as of June 2021, 3,410 electric vehicles were registered in Oklahoma, while 52,190 are registered in Texas.

Oklahoma has 1,001 charging stations for these cars, many in the state’s largest cities, including 241 in Oklahoma City. A map released by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments shows fast-charging stations at grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and malls across the city.

Stations can also be found along major state highways, but are rare in rural areas.

The state has a deadline to prepare a plan to fill these gaps using $66.3 million to be allocated over five years under the Infrastructure Jobs and Investment Act signed by President Joe Biden on November 15. As director of the multi-model division at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Jared Schwennesen has until August 1 to show federal officials how the money will be spent.

A model for creating the network already exists in Oklahoma through ChargeOK, grants created for electric vehicle charging stations funded through Volkswagen’s Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement, which has settled accusations that the automaker deliberately misrepresented its emissions levels.

“Once approved by the Federal Highway Administration, we will then proceed with an implementation plan,” Schwennesen said. “In previous years, we had VW’s settlement with the DEQ to create Charge. Now we will move on to another construction.

While the plan is being implemented by ODOT, the locations will not be on national highway land. Instead, Schwennesen said, the agency will seek to work with communities and private landowners where drivers can pair their charging time with shopping, visiting a library or having a meal.

“Truck stops are a natural place to do that,” Schwennesen said. “Right now we see them in malls because they have amenities and things to do and it takes a while compared to filling up with gas. You definitely want a safe and secure place where people can hang out for 15 minutes to an hour and a half.

Transportation officials stress they are not looking to operate the stations and will instead look to private industry, community groups, local governments and other organizations to oversee operations.

“We will have five years of funding,” Schwennesen said. “I don’t know how long we’ll have to spend the money. It could be eight to ten years before the final construction is completed. »

Steve Lackmeyer started at The Oklahoman in 1990. He is an award-winning journalist, columnist and author who covers downtown Oklahoma City, urban development and the economy for The Oklahoman. Contact him at [email protected] Please support his work and that of other Oklahoman reporters by purchasing a subscription today at subscribe.oklahoman.com.

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