Richmond Circle K sees first NEVI-funded EV charging station in southeast U.S.

Published 4:53 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

Gov. Andy Beshear’s gas station stops wouldn’t normally be news. But Monday, he appeared in a suit and tie to make a big announcement at a Richmond Circle K.

The gas station is the first in the southeastern U.S. to be awarded money for electric vehicle charging stations through the federal National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, part of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

NEVI will award $5 billion over five years to support installation of EV charging stations across the country. Kentucky is using $70 million of its award to instal fast charging stations every 50 miles on the Commonwealth’s interstates and major highways.

The awards are public-private partnerships in which NEVI funds up to 80% of the operating and construction costs for the first five years, while private developers pay the rest.

“With the Commonwealth at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution, it only makes sense that we’d also lead the way in building out a network of fast chargers for these vehicles,” Beshear said.

In 2021, Beshear announced a $5.8 billion investment in Hardin County—BlueOval SK, home to two of the world’s largest electric vehicle battery plants.

In 2022, he announced a $2 billion investment in Bowling Green, where the Envision AESC EV battery plant is being built.

This year, Toyota announced another $1.3 billion investment in Scott County, which will manufacture batteries for EVs and hybrid vehicles.

Beshear said that Kentucky could be the leader in the industry if everyone pushes the politics associated with electric vehicles and reducing emissions aside.

“We need to be supportive of this industry but we can also be supportive of the traditional automotive industry all at the same time,” he said. “…There’s going to be a lot of options and if we want to be the automotive leader, we need to make sure we lead in each and every one of them.”

Federal Highway Administration representative Shailen Bhatt called the first Kentucky location “strategic.”

Bhatt said that the 1-75 is a key corridor for not only Kentucky, but the nation, especially considering that 3% of the nation’s GDP crosses the Brent Spence Bridge every year.

He also mentioned NEVI’s emphasis on building domestically. Beginning this July, all chargers eligible for NEVI grants will have to be assembled in the U.S. and the cost of components assembled in the U.S. will have to be at least half of the total cost.

“We’re not just investing in electrification here, but we’re making sure that these jobs are going to be going to Americans and making sure that we’re building the American economy,” Bhatt said.

The details

Four ABB E-mobility 180 kilowatt charging stations are being installed at the Richmond Circle K. They are fast charging stations, meaning that it takes 20 minutes to recharge for a typical electric vehicle. Beshear said installation should be complete in early April.

Right now, there are only standard CCS1 connectors, but stations will add NACS connectors—for Teslas—as soon as possible.

The Circle K project will cost $670,750, with 80% covered by NEVI.

The project is one of 24 Kentucky sites installing fast chargers this year. Each will be open 24 hours a day. These will serve most of Kentucky’s Alternative Fuel Corridors.

Another RFP is out right now to award up to 16 additional developers who want to build charging stations on Kentucky’s long distance network. They are due mid-April.

Beshear and Bhatt addressed a recent drop in demand for EVs. Bhatt said that EVs make up about 10% of vehicle sales now, which is up from the low single digits a few years ago. He added that as gas prices rise, demand should too.

Beshear said that the price of the battery is about to come down, and demand will increase as operations to build the components necessary to build EVs increase in America.

“As the supply chain not only comes to the United States, but comes to Kentucky, you’re gonna see some real competition in terms of price with EVs and other vehicles,” he said. “And you’re gonna see, I think, purchases pick up significantly.”