Infrastructure bill provides jolt for electric vehicle usage

Charging stations, grants for fleet purchases are part of the package

SAN ANTONIO – Electric vehicles are quickly becoming more popular in Texas and across the country. The new federal infrastructure bill includes billions of dollars that could help boost their usage.

Environmental groups are applauding the investment in electric vehicle charging stations and funding that allows for agencies to purchase new electric vehicles, saying it will lead to fewer dangerous emissions and better health.

“We know that if we’re going to avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we need to cut those emissions from transportation dramatically and electric vehicles are a key part of that solution,” said Luke Metzger, executive director of the group Environment Texas.

Texas is expected to receive $408 million of an estimated $7.5 billion allocated nationally to support the expansion of a vehicle charging network, according to the White House. The state would be eligible to apply for additional grants as well.

“President Biden came in with a goal of putting 500,000 chargers in public and public places out in the United States,” said Matt Casale, environmental programs manager for the Texas Public Interest Research Group. “This $7.5 billion could get us up to 250,000 of those chargers, maybe even more, depending on how the financing works.”

Texas already has the fifth largest network of EV charging stations, but more availability could get more buyers off the fence, Metzger said. The bill also includes funding to help school districts convert their fleets of school buses from diesel to electric.

“Even though electric school buses are cheaper to operate over and have cheaper fuel than diesel busses, they do have a higher upfront cost, Metzger said. “And so, this federal grant funding will really help a lot of school districts address that upfront cost and make sure that kids are traveling to school safely, not being exposed to harmful diesel exhaust.”

The funding in the bill is expected to be allocated over the next five years. President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law early next week.

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About the Author:

Samuel King anchors traffic during GMSA and reports on transportation and mobility issues across the San Antonio region. He joined the KSAT 12 news team in 2020 from KUT in Austin. Samuel was born in Queens, spent time growing up in South Alabama and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.