The Snake River Alliance has made expanding Idaho’s electric vehicle charging infrastructure one of our signature clean energy priorities. As we continue toward the inevitable retirement of the fleet of dirty, out of state coal plants that provide about 40 percent of our electricity, our attention continues to look at the next, biggest source of Idaho’s climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions: Transportation.
We’re pleased to report that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) included two important transportation corridors in Idaho among the 55 “alternative fuels corridors” in 35 states where it has identified priority transportation routes to make it easier to navigate electric vehicles around the country. This is big news for Idaho because our state desperately needs to expand its EV charging infrastructure to help clean-energy vehicle owners get around our state whether they live here or are just visiting. Without adequate EV charging stations, drivers of these vehicles will go elsewhere where they’re not concerned about running out of power. So adding more stations means people can more freely navigate certain parts of our state.
To be sure, much more needs to be done to make Idaho “EV-friendly,” since it’s still nearly impossible to drive an electric vehicle from north to south in Idaho. But this is a good start. Idaho’s routes are part of an initial 85,000-mile electric vehicle transportation network.
Idaho was among many states that responded to a July FHWA request to states to nominate possible EV corridors. The Idaho Transportation Department did a great job in submitting a detailed map of how Idaho could be “energized” for transportation. Many of the state’s ideas didn’t make this first cut, but the Interstate 84 and Interstate 15 corridors did. That means these corridors will be eligible for new highway signs directing drivers to refueling opportunities for electric, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas vehicles.
“Alternative fuels and electric vehicles will play an integral part in the future of America’s transportation system,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “We have a duty to help drivers identify routes that will help them refuel and recharged those vehicles and designating these corridors on our highways is a first step.”
Some Idaho electric utilities, including Idaho Power and Avista Utilities, are already proposing measures to expand EV charging opportunities in southern and northern Idaho.