Bulletin
Investor Alert

Medill News Service Archives | Email alerts

Jan. 24, 2022, 1:34 p.m. EST

Bipartisan efforts mount to expand EV infrastructure in rural America

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Rivian Automotive Inc. Cl A (RIVN)
  • X
    Ford Motor Co. (F)
  • X
    General Motors Co. (GM)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Katherine Huggins

Reps. Abigail Spanberger and Tom Rice are trying to make it easier for rural residents to charge electric vehicles and farm equipment.

Spanberger, a Virginia Democrat, recently introduced legislation co-sponsored by South Carolina Republican Rice that would expand the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program by including funding for EV charging infrastructure. REAP provides financial assistance for producers and small businesses in rural communities.

The current program, which supports businesses located in areas with populations of no more than 50,000 residents and agricultural producers, provides loans and grants for energy efficient upgrades and renewable energy systems. Gearing it toward EV charging would be new, although one winery in 2012 was able to use REAP funding to install a 5 kW solar array to support its electric vehicle charging.

“The whole purpose of this program is to leverage public dollars in a way that meaningfully impacts our rural communities,” Spanberger said in an interview. “We’ve seen it in other aspects of REAP utilization, so including EV charging for on-farm energy generation is an important part of that.”

The bill is designed to help agriculture producers purchase and install charging equipment for electric farm vehicles and equipment, but also would apply to anyone currently qualified for REAP funding and charging equipment for smaller-sized electric vehicles as well.

Read: A ‘Made in America’ EV tax credit — what car buyers need to know if Biden can advance a sliced-and-diced Build Back Better bill

“What we’re trying to do here is be proactive,” Spanberger said. “Certainly there’s not a massive need at this point in time. But as industry is evolving very, very quickly, we should expect a massive need in the coming few years and so to be prepared for that is really my focus here.”

‘Filling gaps’

The Spanberger-Rice legislation comes amid efforts by the Biden administration to use the allocated $7.5 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law to create a national network of 500,000 EV chargers, with a “focus on filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach locations.”

Read: Kamala Harris targets 500,000 charging sites as Biden administration sticks to aggressive plan for EVs to replace 50% of auto sales

And: Billions of dollars in infrastructure bill for charging could supercharge electric vehicle adoption

Rural communities historically have had a low adoption rate of electric vehicles. According to the Environmental and Energy Study Institute, most rural areas have new electric vehicle registration rates of “ between zero and half a percent ,” or the equivalent of “ fewer than five and, in many cases, zero registered EVs per 10,000 people in the majority of non-metro counties.”

However, Rivian’s /zigman2/quotes/230726939/composite RIVN +5.92% R1T, Ford’s /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F +3.89% F-150 Lightning, due on the market early in 2022 , GM’s /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM +3.07% Silverado rival to Ford due in 2023 , and similar electric pickup trucks will accelerate demand in rural areas, said Joel Levin, executive director of the nonprofit advocacy group Plug in America.

Read: Amazon and its fleet EV alliance caution GM, Toyota and others they’ll shop elsewhere if battery life, sedan demand not met

“Within the next year or two, there’s probably going to be a nice selection of trucks available which really changes the dynamic for rural areas,” Levin said in an interview, later adding, “You can’t ask farmers to drive a Chevy /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM +3.07% Bolt — not that the Bolt is a bad car — but it’s not appropriate for what they need.”

The Spanberger-Rice legislation was endorsed by Ford and similarly commended by Rivian in an emailed statement.

“Rivian is already working to install charging in rural areas, but achieving widespread adoption must involve public investments as well as private to achieve the full scope of environmental and economic benefits nationwide,” said James Chen, vice president of public policy at Rivian Automotive.

Read: Rivian CFO says the electric-vehicle maker will prioritize growth over profits after its public listing

/zigman2/quotes/230726939/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 30.96
+1.73 +5.92%
Volume: 17.47M
May 27, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
N/A
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$27.88 billion
Rev. per Employee
$5,277
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 13.63
+0.51 +3.89%
Volume: 54.20M
May 27, 2022 4:03p
P/E Ratio
4.79
Dividend Yield
2.93%
Market Cap
$54.79 billion
Rev. per Employee
$735,459
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 38.57
+1.15 +3.07%
Volume: 15.68M
May 27, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
6.40
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$56.24 billion
Rev. per Employee
$831,267
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 38.57
+1.15 +3.07%
Volume: 15.68M
May 27, 2022 4:00p
P/E Ratio
6.40
Dividend Yield
0.00%
Market Cap
$56.24 billion
Rev. per Employee
$831,267
loading...
1 2
This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »

Partner Center

Link to MarketWatch's Slice.