Local and Regional EV Planning Partners
Like statewide and multistate partners, local, Tribal, and regional planning organizations can play a key role in connecting stakeholders and identifying available funding, as well as in providing technical expertise.
Clean Cities coalitions comprise a national initiative with affiliated local, State, or regional stakeholder groups that provide both technical assistance at all project stages and access to local partners for EV infrastructure projects. Planning agencies accept input from stakeholders to develop transportation plans for the coming years, providing opportunities to partner on coordination of EV infrastructure projects throughout a region or State and for programming funding that flows through these planning agencies to such projects.
Through DOE’s national network of Clean Cities coalitions, more than 75 coalitions create networks of local stakeholders that advance alternative fuels through public-private partnerships. These coalitions have extensive experience promoting alternative fuel vehicle adoption and alternative fuel infrastructure deployment. Each coalition is led by an on-the-ground Clean Cities coordinator who tailors projects and activities for local communities.
Clean Cities coalitions are well positioned to help connect rural entities with local partners for developing and executing EVSE projects. These coalitions engage with more than 20,000 stakeholders across the United States. Typical coalition members include:
- Automotive businesses and dealerships;
- Fuel and charging systems providers;
- Vehicle fleet owners and operators;
- State and local government agencies (e.g., environmental, energy, transportation, planning, and public health agencies); and
- Community organizations and nonprofits.
In addition to connecting local stakeholders and partners working on EVs, coalitions can provide technical assistance on specific EV infrastructure projects and connect rural entities with available funding opportunities and incentives. The network of Clean Cities coalitions also enables rural entities to tap into national expertise, including research from DOE’s National Laboratories and the recently established DOE/USDOT Joint Office of Energy and Transportation
DOE’s Vehicle Technologies Office designates Clean Cities coalitions working locally to foster the Nation's economic, environmental, and energy security. DOE provides coalitions resources and information to help transportation stakeholders evaluate options and achieve goals around electrification and alternative fuels, advanced vehicles, mobility solutions, and other fuel-saving strategies. DOE also often encourages project teams to partner with Clean Cities coalitions on applications to competitive funding opportunities for demonstrating and deploying electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
While some coalitions are based in urban areas or operate statewide, participation and collective knowledge of opportunities and needs also extends to less-populated surrounding areas. To determine if a coalition is active in an area and to identify contacts, see DOE's Clean Cities coalition locations on the map below and the Clean Cities coalition contact directory.
Areas that do not have an active Clean Cities coalition can still benefit from the program. The national program provides technical assistance, resources, and information on electric vehicles that is relevant nationwide. For areas not directly served by a Clean Cities coalition, contact the appropriate Clean Cities Regional Manager for assistance in getting started. In addition, many coalitions provide technical assistance to stakeholders in the vicinity and outside of their geographic areas. They may be able to connect rural entities with regional contacts, such as EV chargers and service providers.
Transportation Planning Agencies
Coordination with Emergency Response Agencies
Some States are exploring opportunities to coordinate with emergency response planners, such as a State emergency management agency, to strategically locate EVSE along evacuation routes. This could include permanent EV charging stations along these routes, as well as mobile charging that can be deployed in preparation of an evacuation.
For example, Florida’s Electric Vehicle Roadmap includes information about planning for emergency evacuations of EVs and identifies recommended locations for installing temporary charging, largely in rural areas.
Transportation planning agencies are important partners in EV infrastructure projects, so it is beneficial for site-level planners and other rural entities to identify the organization conducting transportation planning in their community.
In metropolitan areas with a population over 50,000, the responsibility for transportation planning lies with metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs)1.
For rural areas and small communities, no one official body is designated for transportation planning. In some States, the State DOT conducts transportation planning in rural areas, while in other States, a regional transportation planning organization (RTPO), regional planning council, or local government is designated as the planning agency.
On Tribal Lands, a Tribal Planning and Development Department (e.g., the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Department of Tribal Planning, Leech Lake Reservation Tribal Development Division), a Department of Transportation (e.g., Seneca Nation Department of Transportation), or a Division of Transportation (e.g., Navajo Nation Division of Transportation) can be designated as the planning agency for a particular Tribal Land.
Rural entities can engage with transportation planning agencies around electric vehicles in several ways. First, it is important to identify the relevant transportation planning organization(s) within an area, whether it is an MPO, an RTPO, a State DOT, or a Tribal planning agency. For more information on RTPOs and to identify RTPOs operating in a particular area, see the National Association of Development Organization’s website. For more information about Tribal planning agencies, consult the website of the Tribal Government with jurisdiction over a specific Tribal Land.
Rural entities can visit transportation planning agency websites to view existing planning documents and identify information relevant to EV infrastructure planning. Typical transportation planning products include:
- Work Programs: The Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP) for MPOs, or the State Planning and Research Work Program for State DOTs, is an annual funding document that identifies transportation studies, tasks, or research that the agency will perform. These could include studies related to EV charging networks and gaps in a region.
- Transportation Improvement Programs: MPOs and RTPOs develop four-year, fiscally constrained Transportation Improvement Programs (TIPs), which outline specific transportation projects and strategies with committed funding. State DOTs develop a similar Statewide TIP (STIP), which incorporates MPO, Tribal, and RTPO TIPs but also identifies projects in rural areas and small urban areas not covered by MPOs or RTPOs. TIPs could include specific, funded projects to install EV charging stations. They could also identify when major transportation projects are occurring in their area to better coordinate EVSE installations with these projects.
- Long-Range Transportation Plans: Regional, Metropolitan, or Statewide Long-Range Transportation Plans cover a minimum of 20-years and identify goals and strategies for how the agency plans to invest in the transportation system. Long-range plans may include goals that facilitate investments in EVs and EV charging infrastructure, such as improving air quality in a region, supporting growing demand for charging stations, and meeting climate resilience goals. They may also include more specific strategies like installing EV corridors along State highways. State DOTs may also wish to consider the availability of AFCs when creating their State Freight Plans and planning for future freight infrastructure needs.
MPO and Clean Cities Coalition Partner on Alternative Fuels Corridor Nomination for Ohio
In 2021, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) and Clean Fuels Ohio (CFO), a Clean Cities coalition, submitted a detailed application to FHWA nominating several highway corridor segments in Ohio as EV signage-ready and EV-signage pending alternative fuel corridors. This built on MORPC's and CFO's prior efforts to designate EV, natural gas, and propane corridors. To date, FHWA has approved 11 Interstate and five U.S. and State highway EV corridors in Ohio.
The development of UPWPs, TIPs, and Long-Range Transportation Plans all provide an opportunity for rural entities to work with planning agencies to consider EVSE and the EV infrastructure needs of rural areas in their goals, programs, and funding decisions.
Transportation planning agencies are required to get public and stakeholder input in the development of these transportation planning products. Most State DOTs, MPOs, Tribal Governments, and RTPOs have information on their websites listing opportunities to attend public meetings and to provide comments on draft plans.
Other Local and Regional Partners
Regional planning organizations, planning commissions, and councils of governments serving multiple towns, counties and/or Tribal Lands can help integrate EV charging and transportation needs with other regional priorities around energy, environment, housing, and economic and workforce development. These organizations can also connect and provide resources to communities that are newly navigating the planning and funding process. For example, in 2020 the Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission hosted an online training with Granite State Clean Cities on streamlining permitting for EV charging stations.
Institutions of higher education like colleges and universities—including Tribal Colleges, historically Black colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving institutions —and technical and vocational schools can also serve as valuable resources and potential project partners. Many have developed next-generation training curriculums providing workforce education on EV repair and emergency response and EVSE installation and servicing.
The National Alternative Fuels Training Consortium (NAFTC) hosted at West Virginia University maintains a national training center network offering these and other EV-focused technical programs at schools across the country. Other programs such as the NC Clean Energy Technology Center at North Carolina State University offer in-person and virtual education and outreach to the general public on EVs and EV charging, as well as services to help rural organizations analyze their fleets to determine how to best approach EV adoption and EVSE planning. Numerous other institutions are carrying out grant-funded rural area EV demonstration projects and EVSE planning and analysis. Tennessee Technological University is leading a US DOE-funded rural EV testbed project to demonstrate and evaluate the practical use and real-world application of EVs among fleets and individuals in rural Cumberland County, TN. Lastly, colleges and universities serve as excellent EVSE site hosts for students and visitors in addition to institutional EV fleets
EV advocacy organizations can also be valuable partners in raising awareness around EVs, facilitating demonstration projects, and guiding equitable deployment. For example, the nonprofit Forth (based in Oregon) operates a mobile EV technology showcase that visits rural and underserved communities. Forth also procured two electric tractors that are being rotated across farms in Oregon for demonstration and evaluation. Another nonprofit, the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP), trains electricians to become EVITP certified for the installation of charging equipment in their State through a training class and exam.
Partnerships for an Affordable Electric Vehicle Carsharing Service
Tulare and Kern Counties in California have an EV carsharing service with vehicles that can be rented on an hourly or daily basis. The vehicles are priced affordably at $4 per hour or $35 per day ($45 per day on weekends) with insurance and car maintenance included in the rates. The vehicles are parked at charging stations installed at Self-Help Enterprises residential housing complexes and are available 24/7, providing a significant service to bridge transportation gaps for rural residents in the San Joaquin Valley. The California Vanpool Authority is providing fleet management, repairs and maintenance, and vehicle cleaning. This program is made possible through grant funding from the California Climate Initiative.
1MPOs are located in Census-designated areas over 50,000 in population and have Federal requirements to plan for the transportation needs of the metropolitan planning area.