Biden Administration Proposes Universal EV Charging Standards

Proposed rule sets nationwide standards for EV charging networks for all makes and models of cars.

On June 9, 2022, the Biden administration released new standards for its goal of building 500,000 electric vehicle ("EV") charging stations nationwide by 2030.

The U.S. Departments of Transportation ("DOT") and Energy announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("NPRM") creating minimum requirements for projects funded under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure ("NEVI") Formula Program (part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill) and all public EV chargers funded by the Federal Highway Administration (Title 23, United States Code). The NEVI Formula Program authorized $5 billion in formula funding to states to build charging infrastructure along highway corridors.

The standards are designed to apply nationwide regardless of the operator or type of vehicle being charged. The rules would require federally funded charging stations to be built along interstate corridors within a mile of a major highway and no more than 50 miles apart. The NPRM covers the installation, operation, or maintenance of EV charging infrastructure; the interoperability of EV charging infrastructure; traffic control devices/on-premises signage; data, including reporting and privacy requirements (applicable only to NEVI Formula Program projects); network connectivity (including requiring chargers to be able to communicate using Open Charge Point Protocol, or OCPP, and ISO 15118); and free delivery of data to mobile apps on charging station locations, pricing, real-time availability, and accessibility.

The NPRM also proposed the charging stations (i) connect using a common charging port type called the Combined Charging System and include adapters for all makes and models of EVs; (ii) contain a minimum of four DC charging ports; and (iii) provide contactless payment methods (including prohibiting requiring paid memberships or loyalty programs). The NPRM sets minimum power levels at or above 150kW (DC chargers) and, once met, for 240-volt AC chargers at least a maximum of 6 kW per port simultaneously, plus 24/7 operability, so that charging time is comparable to filling a gas tank. AC chargers must also be ENERGY STAR certified. Additionally, the standards establish workforce requirements, including certifications, for installation, maintenance, and operations.

The proposed rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register this week with a 60-day comment period to follow.

Clients should consider (i) if their current chargers and charging programs meet or exceed the federal guidelines (e.g., are eligible for the NEVI Formula Program); (ii) the impact on current supply agreements, manufacturer capabilities, and supply chain issues if demand for chargers and related parts increases significantly; and (iii) if the standards could impact battery range, reliability, or performance, including any modifications to planned software development updates or battery warranties.

For more information, please contact the lawyers listed below. 

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