Federal funding jumpstarts Montana electric vehicle charging

State to receive $43 million infrastructure grant

The state of Montana just got a big financial boost to improve infrastructure for electric automobiles.

Montana is set to receive about $43 million under the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law late last year. The act includes $7.5 billion to support a national electric vehicle charging network. Of that total, $5 billion will go to states under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program). Montana will receive nearly $43 million through the formula program to build direct-current fast charging infrastructure along interstate and U.S. highway corridors over the next five years.

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A charging stastion in Gardiner, Montana, that was funded in part by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. (Photo courtesy of Montana Department of Environmental Quality)

The funding will be administered by the Montana Department of Transportation in collaboration with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. 

Montana was already creating an electric vehicle charging network. The Montana Energy Office at DEQ has developed expertise in electric vehicle charging infrastructure through the 2017 settlement with Volkswagen, acording to Montana DEQ Director Chris Dorrington. “Efficient distribution of these new federal funds will support on-going private investment in this growing area of need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Montana," Dorrington said.

The federal funding can cover up to 80 percent of the costs associated with the electric vehicle charging infrastructure and the remainder will come from private investment—meaning state funds will not need to be used to match private funding. DEQ’s Fast Charge Your Ride Program awarded funding in 2021 using the same cost share model to partner with private entities, according to Dorrington.

“This is a great opportunity for Montana to combine federal funding with private investment to create 21st century transportation infrastructure,” Montana Department of Transportation director Mack Long said. “Government works best when it works together with the private sector. This program will be a great opportunity to display effective public-private partnerships that serve the traveling public in Montana.”

Under the new program, the funding will initially be limited to highway corridors that have been designated as Alternative Fuel Corridors by the Federal Highway Administration. In Montana those corridors includes Interstate 15, Interstate 90 and Interstate 94, along with U.S. Highway 2 and U.S. Highway 93.

Under the program, Montana must develop and submit an “Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plan” by Aug. 1. Montana DEQ will lead the development of the plan in coordination with MDT.

A virtual information session is planned for April 4 from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Anyone interested in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, sharing information or commenting on the development of the plan is encouraged to attend the webinar. For more information, visit https://deq.mt.gov/energy/Programs/fuels



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