Wyoming transportation officials are applying for almost $25 million in federal funding for electric vehicle infrastructure in the state.
If the funding application is approved, electric vehicle infrastructure will be installed on Wyoming’s three interstates first, according to the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s draft National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan.
After that work is done, Fremont County highways are next on the list.
WYDOT strategic planner Jesse Kirchmeier said the non-interstate routes selected for electric vehicle infrastructure in Wyoming were deemed most likely to “get folks from the interstates to the (national) parks.”
Our No. 1 priority here is tourism visits,” he said, noting that only about 500 people actually own electric vehicle in the state – “certainly not enough to support the level of infrastructure required.”
“We’re not really building this to enable Wyomingites that currently have the technology to move around,” Kirchmeier said. “We’re really building this, at least initially, until it’s adopted higher in the state – if it ever is – for those out-of-state tourists.”
There are only four registered electric vehicles in Fremont County, according to WYDOT’s data.
The non-interstate plan also takes into account Wyoming’s Justice40 areas, Kirchmeier said, which includes several counties as well as the Wind River Indian Reservation.
“Our goal is to spend 40 percent of the entire funding in those (communities),” he said. “So we selected routes that went through those counties to make sure we supported those areas, specifically where the county itself wasn’t already on a corridor.”
He shared a map that shows the proposed locations for electric vehicle infrastructure throughout the state, including three stations in Fremont County – in Shoshoni, Lander, and Dubois.
The specific plans for each non-interstate route will be finalized later on in the process, Kirchmeier noted, after the state puts out requests for proposals from people interested in developing the infrastructure.
He added that, at this point, the state is “making the assumption” that the charging stations along the non-interstate routes will not have to be as large or expensive as those on the interstates.
Instead, he said, Wyoming should be able to “let the local jurisdiction or business decide what works best for their area.”
“They may put in a series of much smaller stations along the way to get folks from, say, Casper to Shoshoni, and then from Shoshoni up to Cody, or Shoshoni over to Jackson,” he said.
‘Do we actually have to?’
Wyoming Rep. Marshall Burt, L, Green River, asked what would happen if Wyoming decided not to apply for the federal electric vehicle funding.
“I haven’t been on board with this,” he said. “Do we actually have to take the $25 million?”
If Wyoming chooses not to use the federal funding for electric vehicle infrastructure, Kirchmeier said the money would go to the Federal Highway Administration to be “offered up to other states.”
Burt followed up with another question: What happens to the electric vehicle infrastructure if the station has to close?
“I’ve asked that myself, (and) I have not received an answer,” Kirchmeier replied. “(If) the business fails…we made the assumption that (it’s) between the federal government and the station owner.”