Mobility needs are not created equally, and addressing them should not be one size fits all. My recent blog post explored the characteristics of the urban environment and the effect transportation electrification could have on existing inequities. Rural communities’ geography and driving habits require different considerations and solutions to ensure that these communities are not left behind in the transition to electrifying transportation.
Characteristics of Rural Communities
Given, or possibly due to, the lower rate of adoption of EVs in rural areas, it’s not surprising that much of the charging infrastructure has also been concentrated in major cities in states with higher urban populations. This lack of infrastructure, in turn, perpetuates ongoing barriers to rural EV adoption. There is significant federal funding intended to address this problem coming down the pike in programs such as the $5 billion National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program. In addition, many states across the Southeast, such as North Carolina, are proactively leveraging their VW settlement funds to support rural charging infrastructure programs, specifically targeting under-resourced counties. These historic investments are especially timely as rural populations have been dropping as our country becomes more urbanized. This population shift represents a decreasing tax base for many rural communities, resulting in dwindling resources to seek out and secure funds that cover the build-out of charging infrastructure and fleet conversion. Typically the cost share of these federal grants is an 80/20 split which can be prohibitive for local governments already operating with limited resources, so innovative funding from programs like these are an important component of a successful transition in rural areas.
The pathway to transportation electrification presents unique challenges and opportunities for rural communities. Pathways forward vary depending on a myriad of factors for different communities, and there is no “silver bullet” solution. But now is the time to prepare and hasten this transition and ensure that those living in rural communities, who arguably have the most to gain, realize the benefits of emission-free electric transportation fueled by clean, renewable energy.
Electrify the South is a Southern Alliance for Clean Energy program that leverages research, advocacy, and outreach to promote renewable energy and accelerate the equitable transition to electric transportation throughout the Southeast. Visit ElectrifytheSouth.org to learn more and connect with us.
Patrick King is the Electric Transportation Equity Manager for SACE. He is working to accelerate the transition to equitable electric transportation by promoting the growth of electric transportation ownership for…
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