PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The state Department of Transportation is working on a network of charging stations for electric vehicles across South Dakota’s two interstate highways.
DOT’s director of planning and engineering Mike Behm said Thursday that state government doesn’t intend to put any money into it.
South Dakota is one of the states that hasn’t yet developed an alternative fuel corridor that the U.S. Department of Transportation wants.
Behm said South Dakota currently has about 50 charging stations, but the only fast-charging station that would meet NEVI standards is located at Wall. Two others are planned at Rapid City and Chamberlain.
South Dakota needs 13 more along I-90 and I-29, as well as I-190 at Rapid City and I-229 at Sioux Falls, spaced about 50 miles apart, according to Behm.
“There’s significant challenges,” he said.
South Dakota currently has only about 1,400 electric vehicles registered for highway use.
The South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources meanwhile has been subsidizing lower-kilowatt charging stations as part of the Electrify America program, using Volkswagen settlement funds that were distributed to each state.
Behm said Tesla has shown interest in expanding its charging network to handle non-Tesla vehicles and GM has been discussing partnerships with truck stops nationwide.
One of the challenges for a fast-charging station is the $1 million-plus cost. Another is right-sizing the stations so that they can grow with demand. Public meetings were held in Rapid City and Sioux Falls this summer, and DOT held an online briefing too.
“We want to have a thoughtful approach to deployment,” Behm said.
He wants to learn from experiences in other states and doesn’t anticipate deployment of projects in South Dakota until summer to fall 2023 at the earliest. South Dakota’s plan would need federal approval.
“There’s quite a bit to be worked out,” Behm said.