Don Utberg-Hood’s solution to avoid pollution is reflected in what he drives.
He’s an electric vehicle owner, and he’s in the minority.
The N.C. Department of Transportation said electric vehicles and hybrids make up about half a percent of all cars and trucks registered to drive in the state.
But the number is growing, and while Utberg-Hood said it’s not hard to find a charging station near where he lives in Burlington, finding one in rural areas, like where he used to live, is more of a challenge.
“Right now they’re centered on our corridors … our main interstates and highways … I think we’ve not really been able to cover our rural areas yet,” said Jennifer Weiss, the NCDOT senior adviser for climate change policy.
That is set to change.
The bipartisan infrastructure law that Congress passed last year provides money for the state to expand the number of charging stations.
There’s funding for high-speed, level-three chargers along interstates, and the NCDOT said there is also funding to cover other areas of the state lacking options.
The state has 116 level three-fast chargers in public places. Tesla owns and operates its own station chargers.
Under the bipartisan infrastructure law, the state has submitted a plan that would increase the number of fast-charge locations 37% and the number of charging ports 68%.
“We are starting to do outreach to understand where the locations are needed, where the gaps are in the system today and work with the communities to get those in place,” Weiss said.
While the state has submitted plans for new EV charging stations, it could be a while until we see them. The NCDOT said supply chain issues could delay them significantly.