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Electric vehicle charging stations going statewide in Oklahoma – Oklahoman.com

Planning is underway on how to implement a network of statewide electric vehicle charging stations that will give drivers assurance they can drive anywhere in the state without traveling more than 50 miles to charge up. 
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reports that as of June 2021, 3,410 electric vehicles were registered in Oklahoma, while 52,190 are registered in Texas. 
Oklahoma has 1,001 charging stations for those cars, many of them in the state’s largest cities, including 241 in Oklahoma City. A map published by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments show fast-charging stations can be found at grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants and shopping centers throughout the city. 
Stations also can be found along the state’s major highways, but are scarce in rural areas.  
The state is under a deadline to prepare a plan to address those gaps using $66.3 million to be allocated over five years as part of the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act signed by President Joe Biden on Nov. 15. As manager of the multi-model division at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, Jared Schwennesen has until Aug. 1 to show federal officials how the money will be spent. 
A model for creating the network already exists in Oklahoma thanks to ChargeOK, grants created for electric vehicle charging stations funded through the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust Agreement, which settled charges the automaker purposely misrepresented its emissions levels. 
“Once approved by the Federal Highway Administration, we will then proceed with a plan on implementation,” Schwennesen said. “In previous years we’ve had the VW settlement with the DEQ to create Charge. Now we’re going to move with another build-out.” 
While the plan is being implemented by ODOT, the locations will not be on state highway land. Instead, Schwennesen said, the agency will seek to work with communities and private land owners where drivers can couple their charging time with shopping, visiting a library or grabbing a meal. 
“Truck stops are a natural place to do this,” Schwennesen said. “Currently we see them at shopping centers because they have amenities and things to do and it takes a while compared to fueling up with gasoline. You definitely want a safe, secure area where people can hang out for 15 minutes to an hour and a half.” 
Transportation officials emphasize they are not looking to operate the stations and will instead be looking to private industry, community groups, local governments and other organizations to oversee operations. 
“We will have five years of funding,” Schwennesen said. “I don’t know how long we will have to spend the money. It could be eight to 10 years before final build out is done.” 
Steve Lackmeyer  started at The Oklahoman in 1990.  He is an award-winning reporter, columnist and author who covers downtown Oklahoma City, urban development and economics for The Oklahoman. Contact him at [email protected] Please support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a subscription today at subscribe.oklahoman.com. 

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