Although Wyoming has received initial approval for its National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program plan, that does not mean its state government is planning to go big-time into the electric vehicle market.
The Federal Highway Administration approved the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s plan to use $24 million set aside for the state in the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to put charging stations along the tourist-friendly I-25, I-80 and I-90 corridors, according to Oil City News.
But taking federal money to build charging stations is not the same as the state investing in electric vehicles. The state currently has no state-owned EVs, Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner said.
“There’s not adequate infrastructure out there for us to accomplish our mission right now with that type of equipment. And so, at the current time, we’re running on gas,” he said, according to the Cowboy State Daily.
“There’s a lot of challenges to running an electric vehicle here in the state,” he said, noting there are “a lot of long stretches of road.”
Jordan Achs, a spokesperson for the department, said it has about 4,000 vehicles of various types, including striping trucks, trailer trucks, passenger cars and pickups, according to the report.
Jaye Wacker, a spokesman for the Wyoming Administration and Information Department, said Wyoming tested natural gas vehicles beginning in 2011 but has dropped that experiment.
“Over the years it turned out to be a pain,” Wacker told the Cowboy State Daily. Servicing vehicles was a major issue, he explained.
“So basically, it was an increase in downtime and increase in repair costs. All of that connects back to a lack of infrastructure,” he told the news outlet.
Wacker said the state does have one EV on order to carry the mail among internal departments. He said the infrastructure has to be in place before they can go electric.
“The federally mandated infrastructure has got to be in place or it just doesn’t make sense,” Wacker said.
Wyoming gas station owner Mike Bailey reflected the caution over electric vehicles this spring when he told NPR he was unsure whether he wanted to jump on the electric vehicle bandwagon and install a charging station.
“Sometimes those technologies work out, and sometimes they don’t. So, you know, we’ll see,” he said.
As of Dec. 31, there were 510 electric vehicles in Wyoming — up from 330 the year before, but still only .04 percent of the registered vehicles in the state, according to Electrek.
Wyoming tried to get exceptions to the federal rules that charging stations be no farther than 50 miles apart. Most of the requests were rejected.
“The decision to make these exception requests was not made lightly, but was instead in response to public feedback, limited E.V. adoption rates, increasing E.V. range capabilities, and the long distances between Wyoming’s population centers,” Reiner said, according to MyBigHornBasin.
“Wyoming will continue to work with the F.H.W.A. and other partners to try to find a common-sense solution for the denied exception requests to ensure the stations are economically viable and a good use of taxpayer resources,” he said.
No state money will be used to build, operate or maintain the charging stations, he said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.