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Local News

Wisconsin can now plug in to federal funds to expand EV charging


by Erik Gunn, Wisconsin Examiner
March 20, 2024

Wisconsin will receive $78 million in federal funds to build new electric vehicle charging stations across the state after Gov. Tony Evers signed two bills Wednesday laying the groundwork for the project.

The legislation changes how EV charging stations can bill customers and authorizes the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to establish a state EV charging station program that will receive and deploy federal funds under the federal 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program, included in the infrastructure law, states will get funding to support the construction of new EV fast charging stations along major driving routes where drivers can recharge their electric vehicles in less than an hour.

The federal program requires states to allow businesses providing EV charging services to the public to sell electricity by the kilowatt hour without being regulated as an electric utility. Evers signed SB-791 Wednesday implementing that change.

SB-792, the other bill Evers signed, authorizes the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to establish a program to receive and disperse the state’s share of the federal dollars.

“Expanding EV charging infrastructure is a critical part of our work to ensure Wisconsin is ready to compete and build the future we want for our kids—one that is cleaner, more sustainable, and more efficient,” Evers said in a statement announcing the signings.

The governor’s office noted that Evers had included language along the lines of the two bills in his proposed 2023-25 budget a year ago. Those provisions were removed in the Joint Finance Committee, which rewrote the governor’s draft budget extensively.

“Had Republicans approved these policy changes during the budget process like the governor proposed, Wisconsin would be significantly further along in building stronger, more efficient EV infrastructure across the state,” the governor’s office said.

A study a year ago commissioned by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. found that “there is a tremendous opportunity for Wisconsin to develop a globally competitive cluster centered on the manufacturing of EVs and EV-related equipment, which in turn can help revitalize Wisconsin’s automotive manufacturing industry and drive statewide economic development.”

The study also said that to effectively capitalize on that opportunity, the state will have to address manufacturing productivity concerns as well as a shortage of qualified workers.

In addition, the authors stated, Wisconsin “will need to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship around electrically powered technologies, and it will need to prepare the infrastructure and regulatory framework that enables widespread EV adoption.”

This story is republished from Wisconsin Examiner under a Creative Commons license. Read the original story.