Louisiana has yet to tap $73.4M allocated for EV charging stations. Here’s why


Two years after receiving federal funding to build electric vehicle charging stations across the state, Louisiana has yet to seek bids to build a charging network along major highways, Louisiana Illuminator reports.

But the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development insists there’s a reason for its sluggish pace. Agency spokesperson Rodney Mallet says DOTD plans to start the request-for-proposal process as soon as it identifies an appropriate “contracting mechanism” under state law to use the money.

As Mallet explains it, federal rules for the NEVI program don’t “fit cleanly” within DOTD’s usual contracting methods. DOTD often writes contracts for projects in which the agency owns and maintains the infrastructure, such as highways. The EV charger grants, on the other hand, will pay for the construction of infrastructure for which “ownership and operation will be transferred” from the state, in most cases, to a private entity.

The Federal Highway Administration allocated $73.4 million to Louisiana under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program in 2022. NEVI is a product of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Congress approved in 2021. It included billions for state transportation agencies to build a network of rapid chargers along major highways.

As Louisiana Illuminator reports, the state’s initial response was on par with other states. DOTD submitted its NEVI deployment plan by the federal deadline of August 2022. However, while states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and others now are disbursing the grant money or have already built some EV charging stations, Louisiana hasn’t yet figured out how to spend it. “There’s no real reason to spend two-plus years figuring out how to get this money to grant recipients when other states are already opening up chargers,” says Ryan McKinnon of the Charge Ahead Partnership, an EV charger lobby group. “Lots of states will be opening up chargers pretty soon, and it sounds like Louisiana will be sitting on the sidelines.”

Louisiana Illuminator has the full story.