Feature Story | 8-Mar-2022

Argonne tools helping build equitable nationwide electric vehicle charging network

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

Argonne’s interactive Electric Vehicle Charging Justice40 Map helps EV charging planners align their efforts with federal goals to serve disadvantaged communities.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory contributed critical tools and expertise to a new federal initiative aimed at helping states build electric vehicle (EV) charging stations fairly and equitably across the nation.

Argonne is supporting the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program that will distribute $5 billion to states to create a network of public electric vehicle charging stations. The network is expected to include 500,000 stations by the end of the decade.

The NEVI program is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides up to $7.5 billion for the national electric vehicle charging network. The network is intended to target corridors and communities by filling gaps in rural, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach locations. The goal is to give all residents access to electric vehicle charging.

Argonne has done significant work identifying metrics and determining how best to serve the needs and interests of underserved communities, including quantifying equity in transportation technology,” — Yan (Joann) Zhou, Argonne’s principal transportation systems analyst

States seeking funding under the NEVI Formula Program must align their plans with the Justice40 Initiative, a 2021 standard which set a goal of flowing 40% of federal benefits, including funding for clean transportation, to disadvantaged communities.

“Argonne has done significant work identifying metrics and determining how best to serve the needs and interests of underserved communities, including quantifying equity in transportation technology,” said Yan (Joann) Zhou, Argonne principal transportation systems analyst.

Argonne’s interactive Electric Vehicle Charging Justice40 Map will help EV charging planners align their efforts with the Justice40 goals. The multilayered map displays disadvantaged communities, designated electric vehicle corridors, public fast-charging stations (non‑Tesla) and electrical substations.

The Justice40 Map was developed by Zhou and Jim Kuiper, an Argonne principal geospatial engineer. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) included the map in its recently published NEVI program guidance. The guidance used existing, publicly available data sets to define disadvantaged communities. Details can be found on Argonne’s Electric Vehicle Charging Equity Considerations webpage.

The Justice40 Map is part of a suite of technical assistance resources offered by the newly created Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, a DOE/DOT office dedicated to ensuring that the national public charging network will provide convenient charging for all. The joint office website includes guides to existing charging infrastructure, network and environmental data developed by federal laboratories and state and federal agencies, and tools to aid in understanding equity and climate considerations.

Along with the Justice40 Map, Argonne scientists developed two other applications — the transportation energy burden analysis and the Energy Zones Mapping Tool (EZMT) — that are part of resource suite.

Low-income households spend a greater portion of their income on transportation than higher-income households. Argonne’s transportation energy burden analysis helps identify areas where the household transportation burden is particularly high and informs clean, equitable solutions.

Kuiper coordinates Argonne’s Energy Zones Mapping Tool, which helps users identify potential energy resource areas and energy corridors in the U.S. and find suitable locations for new electric vehicle infrastructure with an emphasis on energy and environmental justice. The modeling approach in the EZMT is flexible, and users can investigate their own specific strategies for infrastructure planning.

“We hope our tools can help all local agencies decision makers incorporate equity when planning, implementing and evaluating investments in electrical vehicle charging stations,” said Kuiper.

Argonne’s commitment to improving, expanding and integrating its tools maximizes its contributions to the energy and environmental justice domain. DOE used Argonne’s transportation energy burden analysis to identify disadvantaged communities; that information in turn was imported into the EZMT; finally, data from the EZMT was integrated into the Justice40 Map.

Argonne’s tools provide critical information to a wide range of stakeholders who are invited to give input on building the national network of electric vehicle chargers. The Joint Office is collecting input and guidance from industry leaders, manufacturers, workers and other stakeholders in planning the convenient, reliable public charging network.

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