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How Arizona is preparing for more electric vehicles and charging stations

Arizona is set to get more than $76.5 million over the next five years as part of a national electric vehicle infrastructure program. While the Arizona Department of Transportation plans to add public charging stations along interstate highways, utility companies are preparing for more cars that rely on the power grid. 

In the past five years, the number of Arizona Public Service customers with electric vehicles has increased from about 5,000 to 25,000. 

Bobby Olsen, senior director for Salt River Project, said  they’re also seeing growth, “We expect that we’ll have nearly 70,000 electric vehicles in our service territory by 2025 and what I would say is we’re well on our way and actually ahead of our goals.”

With more electric vehicles, utility providers are focused on ensuring a reliable power grid. During a recent webinar hosted by the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, Judson Tillinghast, APS product development leader, said timing is key.

“It’s not that we don’t have enough energy to charge a car but when you charge it makes a really big difference on the cost to you when you’re charging it and how to help manage the overall cost to the grid,” he said. “If we can keep that peak down through managed charging solutions, through battery consumptions, through the right, proper rate design, then we’ll make energy costs lower for everybody.”

Arizona was among 35 plans submitted by states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to be approved under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, known as NEVI. The $5 billion nationwide program was created and funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill. 

Arizona’s NEVI Deployment Plan includes upgrades to existing charging stations and installing new ones.

The Biden administration said, “Faster adoption of electric vehicles is a critical part of the nation’s climate goals as transportation currently accounts for more than a quarter of all emissions.”

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.