WASHINGTON — The White House on Thursday announced an array of new initiatives aimed at clinching one key goal in a transition away from burning fossil fuels – switching the nation’s millions of drivers from gas guzzlers to electric vehicles.
The key to this transition? Installing a widespread national network of electric vehicle charging stations that will allow potential drivers to get around a key psychological problem: “range anxiety.” At present, many people are justifiably afraid that they’ll run out of charge on their EV far from a station where they can repower its battery. And without that assurance, EV sales will continue to be held back.
To change this, the White House announced a new designation of up to $4.5 billion in Energy Department loan guarantees to support new types of EV charging infrastructure, plans to designate and develop key electric vehicle “charging corridors” across the country, plans for the government itself to procure large numbers of electric vehicles and research initiatives at the Department of Energy to improve EV charging technologies.
The array of initiatives “serves the goal of providing consumers with more comfort that they will be able to move across regions and across the country in their electric vehicles,” said Brian Deese, a senior adviser to President Obama.
At the same time, the White House also announced that some of the country’s largest power companies and automakers – including Ford and Tesla – had pledged to “drive the market transformation to electric vehicles by making it easy for consumers to charge their vehicles.”
The partnership signals that even as Tesla and other automakers build more electric cars, companies like Duke, the country’s largest electric utility, are taking steps to create more facilities to accommodate them. Duke recently announced a plan to offer cities in North Carolina $ 1 million to develop charging facilities, even though there are only about 4,700 EVs in the state right now, the company’s Randy Wheeless said in a recent interview with the Post.