Types of EV Infrastructure Planning
This section discusses three different levels of electric vehicle infrastructure planning:
- Corridor-level planning supports infrastructure along roads and highways that facilitate inter-regional travel.
- Community-level planning considers infrastructure solutions to meet the diverse needs within a particular region or town.
- Site-level planning focuses on the procurement and installation of EV chargers for a predetermined location.
The figure below illustrates the spatial relationship between these three types of planning:
The relevant level of planning likely depends on the planning lead and the project stage. For example, local and regional leaders may initially engage in community-level planning, while State DOTs and Tribal organizations are well-positioned to pursue corridor-level planning. Both entity types, however, may transition to site-specific planning after identifying preferred locations for new electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).
In contrast, independent charging site hosts—such as owners of businesses, workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, and single-family homes—will likely conduct site-level planning only.
The sections that follow identify useful resources for each type of planning and list planning considerations unique to rural areas.
Corridor-level planning addresses the needs of interregional and interstate travelers and freight operators. Therefore, State DOTs, Tribal organizations, regional planning agencies, and county governments are best positioned to conduct this type of planning.
Key Considerations for Corridor-Level Planning
Below are a few key considerations for corridor-level planning in rural areas:
- Since alternative fuel corridors will ultimately provide nationwide coverage, they will be highly relevant to rural areas.
- The corridor-based approach may be especially fitting for certain rural areas without a sufficient base of local EV adopters to support installations. A corridor-based approach offers rural entities the opportunity to tap into broader regional—or even national—bases of travelers and freight operators that may use a corridor in that rural area with station locations that are still relatively convenient for local users.
- To meet the needs of EV drivers, corridor charging typically needs to be fast, providing as close a refueling experience to filling up with gasoline as possible. Therefore, corridors generally need direct current fast chargers (DCFCs), which are more expensive and require more electric grid infrastructure. However, if travelers make longer stops at certain attractions along corridors, Level 2 chargers at those locations may be adequate.
Resources for Corridor-Level Planning
The following resources provide useful information on corridor-level planning:
- FHWA’s Alternative Fuels Corridors program website: This website provides resources on building out infrastructure and includes several State and regional corridor-level planning documents, including a series of Alternative Fuels Corridor Deployment Plans documenting strategies for filling fast-charge infrastructure gaps along interstate corridors.
- FHWA's Regional Convenings webpage: This resource compiles meeting materials and summary reports from a series of five regional meetings with alternative fuel corridor partners. Meetings occurred in 2018 and 2019 throughout the United States. An example meeting output and corridor-planning resource is the stakeholder responsibility matrix from the Intermountain Western Alternative Fuels Corridor Convening.
- The DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center’s (AFDC) Corridor Measurement Tool: This tool enables users to measure the driving distance between EV charging stations.
- FHWA Alternative Fuel Corridors interactive map: This online application allows users to explore potential new corridors for EV charging stations.
State, Tribal, and local governments; transportation planning agencies; transit agencies; and community organizations may all engage in community-level planning for electric vehicle infrastructure. In contrast to corridor-level planning, which seeks to meet the needs of those “passing through,” community-level planning engages local stakeholders to serve a particular neighborhood, town, or region.
Key Considerations for Community-Level Planning
Below are a few key considerations for community-level planning in rural areas:
- Rural entities can tap into regional coalitions and look to national-level organizations to help establish partnerships for community level planning. Regional transportation planning organizations and metropolitan planning organizations can also help with community-level planning for EVSE.
- In general, rural EVSE projects may face more technical constraints due to less-developed electric-grid and telecommunications infrastructure.
- Communities are made up of diverse stakeholders with different needs and perspectives which should be considered in the planning process.
- Tourism may generate a high percentage of traffic in some rural areas. Since tourists may have different travel patterns (e.g., higher traffic and charging station utilization during holidays and weekends), they are likely to place different demands on the types of EVSE installations needed and the locations of these installations.
Resources for Community-Level Planning
The following resources from the Alternative Fuels Data Center provide useful information on community-level planning:
- Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness: This is AFDC’s primary portal for information to help communities and regions assess existing conditions, identify opportunities, develop partnerships, and conduct education and outreach.
- A Guide to the Lessons Learned from the Clean Cities Community Electric Vehicle Readiness Projects: This is a comprehensive summary of lessons learned from DOE’s 16 Clean Cities EV Readiness projects with coverage of 24 States across the country.
- Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Projection Tool: This online tool helps communities and regions estimate the overall quantity and type of EVSE infrastructure needed.
Site-level planning can occur as a top-down, coordinated approach among regional leaders and stakeholders (including community- and corridor-level planners) or as a bottom-up, individual approach initiated by EVSE site hosts, such as local business owners.
Key Considerations for Site-Level Planning
Below are a few key considerations for site-level planning in rural areas:
- As in community-level planning, rural entities can look to regional coalitions and national-level organizations to help establish partnerships.
- Lack of three-phase power, wired broadband, or cellular service in some rural areas may make it more challenging and expensive to install certain types of chargers, including DCFC and networked charging stations.
- A lower concentration of EV owners in rural areas, combined with the needs of travelers passing through, may affect the charging needs and economics in rural areas.
- Rural drivers may need unique accommodations for their vehicles. For example, drivers arriving with trailers may seek out EVSE alongside pull-through parking spots where drivers would not need to back up their vehicles.
Resources for Site-Level Planning
AFDC provides a general overview of the site-level planning process in addition to the following more detailed resources for specific types of sites: