US states pave the way for the electric car's rise

Several states are adding or increasing incentives for electric vehicle charging stations - with the Washington-California route being dubbed the 'West Coast Electric Highway'.

US EIA

During the past few years, several models of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), including battery electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), have been introduced in the light-duty vehicle market. PEVs are limited by driving range, which is related to battery capacity, and can usually travel between 60 and 200 miles (97-321km) before recharging.

Therefore, charging infrastructure is crucial to the success of these kinds of vehicles. To address this issue, states have established plans to promote the development of infrastructure through financial incentives for the building of new public and private recharging facilities.

In 2008, Washington and Oregon established plans to facilitate PEV travel by installing recharging stations at convenient intervals on major travel corridors, including along Interstate 5 (I-5), the main north-south highway that runs from Canada to Mexico.

Each station contains one 480-volt direct current (DC) fast charger and one 240-volt Level 2 charger. Fast chargers take 15 to 30 minutes to charge a vehicle's battery, while Level 2 chargers take about four hours.

map of electric vehicle charging stations in the lower 48, as explained in the article text

Source: US Energy Information Administration, based on Alternative Fuels Data Center

Fast chargers are now located every 25 to 50 miles (40-80km) along the 585 miles (941km) of I-5 running through Washington and Oregon, as well as along other major routes in these states. Oregon also offers a tax credit for the installation of charging stations, valued at 25% of the cost for residences and 35% for businesses.

Washington and Oregon now have about 5% and 4%, respectively, of the nation's total public charging stations, despite having only about 2% and 1% of the nation's total light-duty vehicles. From March 2012 through April 2014, PEV drivers recharged 17,917 times in Washington and 18,522 times in Oregon, mostly using fast chargers. Total kilowatt-hours consumed were also similar: 154,881 in Washington and 153,256 in Oregon.

California also plans to add charging stations along its length of I-5, extending what state governments have called the "West Coast Electric Highway" all the way to Mexico. At this point, California has focused its efforts on building charging infrastructure around its major cities. The state currently has more than one-fifth of the US public charging stations.

Several other states offer incentives for EV infrastructure:

Maryland offers incentives for PEV recharging equipment: a tax credit of 20% of the cost, up to $400, and a rebate of 50% of the cost, up to $900 for individuals, $5000 for businesses, and $7500 for retail gas stations.

– The District of Columbia offers a tax credit of 50% of the cost of installing a charging station, up to $1000 for residences and $10,000 for publicly accessible stations.

Arizona offers a $75 tax credit for installing charging equipment.

Louisiana offers a 50% tax credit for the cost of charging equipment.

Missouri's tax credit covers 20% of the cost of installing fueling station, up to $15,000 for individuals and $20,000 for businesses.

New York's income tax credit of 50% of the cost of charging equipment covers up to $5000.

Oklahoma has a 75% tax credit for the cost of commercial charging infrastructure.

Utah has made electricity used for vehicles exempt from taxes.

In addition to infrastructure incentives, several states also promote PEV sales by allowing those vehicles in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, regardless of the number of passengers in the vehicle. Hawaii allows PEV owners to drive in HOV lanes and exempts them from public parking fees. California, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Utah also provide HOV access to PEV drivers. New Jersey, New York, and Virginia offer such privileges on a limited number of roads.

*All dollar figures are in $US.

Originally published by the US Energy Information Administration. Reproduced with permission. 

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