Louisiana DOTD Releases Plan to Provide More Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in the State

Through the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will receive about $14 million in federal funding annually over the next five years to be used for electric vehicle charging stations. The DOTD has submitted a five-year plan to create charging stations throughout the state near federal highways like I-49.

ABC 31 News’ Joel Massey spoke with the owner of an electronic vehicle today and has this report.

“So actually, the phone kind of serves as the key.  You’ve got a key card that you can use its blue tooth.”

Alexandria resident Matt Johns has owned a Tesla fully electric vehicle for the past year, and he says he was in the market for a high end vehicle decided to go with this one not for environmental reasons but for the fun of it.

“I’d never known that there was a difference between quality and the price ranges and all that stuff we started looking and this was actually lower than some of the other high end vehicles we were looking at to consider.  And it was electric and all the videos I watched on it made it look super fun and it was different and I wanted to try it out.”

Matt says the fear of being accessible to charging stations is one of the things that drive people away from buying one so he’s glad that the DOTD has a plan now to increase the number of stations in the state.

“I think the more that are out there the more people will get away from the fear of no accessibility to charging.  We’ve taken it all the way up to Tennessee into Kentucky we’ve driven it some really good distances and there’s enough charging stations to take care of it.”

The car is very smart and will let you plan your trip according to the fast-charging stations along the way.  He says that even though his electric bill went up about 150 dollars he’s still spending less than he would at the pump.

“I did not anticipate prices jumping the way they did, but I can tell you driving by and seeing the numbers on the signs right now make me really proud that I don’t have to stop and fill it up.”

One resident I spoke with was concerned that an EV would not have as much power as a regular vehicle but that was not the case with the Tesla I drove.

Others I spoke with pointed out that making EVs also contribute to more carbon in the atmosphere.

“It causes just as much damage to the environment, mining those lithium batteries, as it does us using fossil fuels.”

Alexandria currently has two charging stations, one on Highway 28 West near Johnny Downs baseball fields.  Another is close to the Holiday Inn in downtown Alexandria.

If the car is on zero it will charge in about 30 minutes up to 80 percent.

The Louisiana DOTD has a 5-year plan to increase the number of charging stations along the federal highways.  Right now, there are only 38 EVs registered in Rapides Parish, 18 in Vernon, 8 in Natchitoches, 6 in Avoyelles, 2 in Lasalle, and none in Winn and Grant.

Erin Buchanan with DOTD: “We have parishes where there are no registrations for electronic vehicles in place, but in larger urban areas in Alexandria area, Shreveport, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, etc. we know it’s going to be a little different situation… Overall we are going to be implementing a competitive grant type program and that will be for the implementation installation and maintenance of these charging stations.”

Buchanan says that the plan is a part of a larger goal of making the system resilient to hurricanes and extreme weather.

“The electric vehicle infrastructure that we’re putting in place is part of the overall resiliency goal of ours and also for the changes to our climate.”

John’s Tesla is a self-driving car but be careful with that feature because there it doesn’t mean that the system is autonomous.

Tesla is in hot water in California because the state claims its self-driving claims are deceptive.

For Matt the longer wait on trips to charge the vehicle was not an issue.

“For the most part they’ve placed the stations in spots where you’ve got some stuff to do typically they’re at a mall, like the one at Pearl, Ms. is at an outlet mall.  You’ve got a ton of stuff to do a lot of places to eat.”

So, there is definitely no buyers regret for Matt about the purchase of his Tesla.  And soon he will be able to charge it in more places around the state.

Through the Inflation Reduction act the Biden administration has provided a $7,500 hundred dollar tax incentive for buying an electronic vehicle.  The incentive will go into effect January 1, 2023.  But the EV has to be made in North America, and prices are on the rise.  Last month the average cost of an electric vehicle went up to $68,000.

Johns says that Tesla has future plans to create a lower-cost EV at a price range of $25,000 to 35,000, but with inflation on the rise no word yet on when that could be if ever.