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Groups to build electric vehicle charging stations across rural Utah

A blue sign directs drivers toward an electric vehicle charging station.
trekandphoto
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Adobe Stock
Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, a network of 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations will be built over the next decade.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are an economical and environmentally friendly way to get from Point A to Point B, but the lack of charging stations often limits drivers to short trips.

It could soon change, as the West Electric Highway program aims to install fast-charging stations every 50 miles along rural highways in Utah and other Western states. The project is funded through the bipartisan infrastructure law approved by Congress last year.

Tammie Bostick, executive director of the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, the lead agency on the project, said the ChargeWest network will take the worry out of driving an EV across the state.

"When we look at Charge West, it's an opportunity for us to imagine electrified transportation fully and to know that we can travel, with range confidence, to our destinations and be able to return," Bostick explained.

Other participating states include Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming. Bostick pointed out the programs is the first of its type, and hopes it will be a model for other states to follow.

The West Electric Highway program is backed by a coalition of local and state governments, environmental groups and tourism officials.

Bostick emphasized it will particularly benefit Utah's vacation destinations.

"Secondary highways, the scenic highways, the places that lead us to the places that we travel to, which are our national parks, our monuments, our state parks, our recreation areas," Bostick outlined.

Bostick added a major challenge to building the West Electric Highway system is a lack of electrical infrastructure needed to power fast-charging stations in many of the rural areas.

"So that could be building out their existing electrical system, but also to plan for off-grid system systems that are stand alone, that run on solar, that really don't need a large infrastructure to be available," Bostick explained.

The West Electric Highway program is one of the first fast-charging projects approved from the $2.5 billion allocated for projects under the National Electric Vehicle Charging Network.