Charging station network grows to 14 utilities that go from Maine to Texas

Mark Williams
The Columbus Dispatch
The group of utilities working together to install fast-charging stations along major highways has grown to 14.

Drivers of electric vehicles may one day be able to go from Maine to Texas without worrying about a place to charge up.

American Electric Power says the number of utilities participating in a coalition meant to provide a network of charging stations for drivers of electric vehicles has more than doubled to 14. The utilities' territories run from southern Maine to Florida and west to the Mexican border in Texas.

American Electric Power is leading the program, dubbed the Electric Highway Coalition. The program was announced in March.

The new companies that have joined include Akron-based FirstEnergy along with AVANGRID, Consolidated Edison, DTE Energy, Eversource Energy, Exelon, ITC Holdings and National Grid.

Joining AEP as original companies in the coalition were Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy Corporation, Southern Co. and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The 14 companies serve more than 60 million customers in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

The companies have agreed to work together to ensure deployment of fast-charging stations that enable long distance travel with electric vehicles, avoid duplication among the coalition utilities and complement existing fast-charging sites in their corridors.

The utilities are pursuing fast-charging sites that are capable of getting drivers back on the road in 20 or 30 minutes. These stations would be fewer than 100 miles apart.

The member companies are working to determine the best approaches to support the rollout of charging stations in their territories. Each company will set its own prices and choose its own charging equipment providers.

“Every major car maker has announced production of (electric vehicles) for every lifestyle – from pickup trucks to performance cars – and our industry is prepared to ensure that drivers can travel wherever the road takes them," Nick Akins, AEP's chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement.

AEP has committed to replacing its 2,300 cars and light-duty trucks with electric vehicle models by 2030. Additional medium- and heavy-duty vehicles will transition to hybrid or electric alternatives as models become available.

The charging network will enable AEP employees to use electric vehicles to travel throughout the company’s 11-state service territory.

In 2018, AEP Ohio launched a $10 million program to deploy 375 charging stations in partnership with local governments, workplaces and multi-family dwellings to increase publicly available charging sites and demonstrate the benefit of public-private partnerships as part of the Smart Columbus initiative. The program included a requirement to locate 10% of the charging stations in low-income areas, a benchmark that was exceeded.