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Best Practices to Accelerate NEVI Deployments

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By Hallie Green, Manager, Grants and Proposals
Apr 18, 2024

In the nearly two and a half years since the signing of the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which established the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, EV charging stations have started opening across the country in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Hawaii and Maine.  

While there is some criticism that more states have yet to open stations, it is important to remember it was only last February that program rules were finalized in the Federal Register, and that the development timeline for an EV fast charging station can take up to 18 months. As state departments of transportation (DOTs) have gone through the process of deploying NEVI-funded stations, several best practices have emerged that, if adopted, can help accelerate the deployment of infrastructure and provide more options for EV drivers. 

Through EVgo’s Connect the Watts™ initiative and based on lessons learned from first mover states administering NEVI funding, we developed six program design principles that can be incorporated to help accelerate deployments. Below we highlight three critical principles: 

  1. Remove Bonds and Letters of Credit from the Application Process      

    Letters of credit (LOC) and bonds are one of the most problematic features seen in recent NEVI programs as they typically deter interested applicants. Grant solicitations that require LOCs or bonds to demonstrate an applicant’s ability to complete a project adds unnecessary paperwork, lengthens application review time, and increases costs. It also does not increase the likelihood of project completion. Instead, state DOTs should streamline the request for proposal (RFP) process where possible to accelerate application review and reduce costs for applicants, which can result in a broader pool of applications. State DOTs should also consider establishing firm development milestones for projects to keep applicants on track and quickly recover funding from any non-proceeding projects when inevitable attrition occurs after award.  

    The Texas DOT simplified this aspect of proposals in two ways. First, they did not require bonds or LOCs. Second, they requested a very simple project cost estimate upon submission; the simplicity of the estimate enabled a quicker timeline to make funding decisions.

  2. Deploy Funding Quickly with Multiple Rounds on a Predictable Schedule     

    One of the challenges with NEVI to date has been unpredictability in state schedules for solicitations, which makes it challenging for applicants to plan ahead and ensure sufficient time to develop quality applications. On the contrary, states that publish schedules—and stick to them—are likely to be more successful in attracting quality applicants, leading to faster deployment timelines. 

    For example, while many states have yet to release NEVI funding, Ohio and Pennsylvania have already issued multiple grant solicitations, and have clear timelines and processes established on their websites.  

    A predictable schedule that provides sufficient time (at least 90 days) to complete submissions each round is the best case scenario. 

  3. Share Desired Locations to Improve Application Quality  

    State DOTs can receive relevant site submissions – and applicants can improve their likelihood of being awarded funding – by sharing their eligible locations with accompanying GIS or map files. When states publish eligible locations, this allows applicants to develop sites based on the funding agency’s unique preferences. For example, Illinois released a draft notice of funding opportunity (NOFO) that listed eligible project locations and requirements such as 24/7 access and placement within one-mile driving distance of an alternative fuel corridor, and provided applicants time to develop well-qualified potential sites for consideration. 

    While it’s best practice to share desired locations ahead of time for transparency, it is important to not be overly prescriptive. States with highly specific and restrictive location eligibility can run the risk of severely shrinking their applicant pool. In some instances, restrictions could completely disqualify the entire potential applicant pool and result in zero qualified bids in certain segments, due to real estate, grid constraints, or other factors. Flexibility – within reason – is the way to go.  

In addition to program design principles listed above, other best practices to accelerate NEVI deployments includes leveraging a transparent scoring rubric to vet applications, requesting a single site per application (versus multiple) and streamlining utility coordination. To learn more, please review our full best practices document 

Leaders from Pilot Company, General Motors and EVgo celebrated the opening of the nation’s first NEVI-funded fast charging station in London, OH alongside Ohio Governor Mike DeWine on December 13, 2023. The companies’ infrastructure collaboration also resulted in the opening of the first NEVI-funded fast charging station in Pennsylvania – the third in the country.
In 2021, the country created an ambitious infrastructure goal that will take both patience and industry collaboration to achieve – and as they say, ‘great things take time.’ The progress achieved by the NEVI program to date is worth celebrating, and the pace is picking up. As of Aprill 2024, five states have opened NEVI-funded stations and 20 states have awarded funds. In addition, there are five in the second round of funding. To date, over $179 million in conditional awards have been announced for hundreds of sites across the country.1 As additional states release and open solicitations, incorporating best practices will accelerate and improve the rollout, which benefits each state and most importantly, EV drivers.  

For more information about each program design principle, read our full best practices for the NEVI program. If you’d like to stay connected with EVgo and the Connect the Watts initiative, join our community