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May 17th, 2023
By Michael Coleman
Dear Ask An Advocate,
I’ve noticed that electric vehicles (EV) are on the road a lot more lately, and I’m interested in getting one for my family. But how are they staying charged in our state? I don’t see very many charging stations around, and I’m not finding a lot of helpful information. What is being done to ensure there's appropriate infrastructure in place so I don't get stranded?
Sincerely, Overwhelmed in Oconee
You are right — electric vehicles are on the rise with major brands like Ford, GM, BMW, and Chevrolet announcing plans to roll out fully electric lineups. Like you, many South Carolinians have concerns about their widespread adoption and wonder how far EVs can go on a single charge, or how long it will take to reach a full charge while on a long-distance trip. There is actually a term for these concerns: range anxiety.
Range anxiety is a legitimate concern and particularly high among those who travel frequently and for longer distances. This fear comes from comparing insufficient charging stations to abundant traditional gas stations.
Since the first modernized EVs were introduced in 2008, substantial advancements in battery technology have increased the range of a single charge to around 250 miles. Recent investments from both the public and private sectors will also help facilitate a buildout of charging stations to support the projected increase in demand from EV users.
The Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA), passed in 2021, sets aside $5 billion dollars to establish a National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (NEVI). The program provides funding to states for charging station infrastructure and establishing an interconnected nationwide network that ensures consistent access and reliability for users.
South Carolina’s plan prioritizes charging equipment located along the interstate highway system to complement completion of the national network. The NEVI plan for SC has been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, and we are currently awaiting final rules before implementation.
Automakers and battery manufacturers are aware of widespread range anxiety and are developing technologies that provide more range. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the number of EVs on the market offering at least 300 miles of range tripled in 2022. Proterra Inc. is seizing the moment and recently announced production of the first Proterra powered EV battery at its new Powered 1 battery facility in Greer. Redwood materials also plans to recycle batteries here in SC, which will help address concerns of sustainability.
Continue to urge our lawmakers at the local and state levels to implement policies and incentives that help expand access to electric vehicles and infrastructure. There is undoubtedly more work to be done, but there is reason to breathe easy because of historic investments in electric vehicles and charging stations. Alleviating range anxiety among consumers will move us toward solidifying equitable transportation electrification in South Carolina for years to come.
Upstate Forever advocates at the state and local level on issues related to conservation, water, clean energy, and smart growth. View our 2023 advocacy priorities here.