More fast chargers for electric vehicles coming to Utah with $86 million investment

Sep 23, 2022, 6:35 PM | Updated: 7:18 pm

SALT LAKE CITYTwo agencies are making major investments in fast chargers for electric vehicles across Utah. That will make road trips to national parks and through rural parts of the state more feasible. Their goal is to eliminate range anxiety while speeding up adoption of EVs.

Rocky Mountain Power plans to spend $50 million on 20 new charging locations in Utah, with the first coming online in the spring, according to James Campbell, the company’s director of innovation and sustainability. 

“You can charge quickly and it will be reliable,” Campbell said. “One of the things that Rocky Mountain Power is going to commit to doing is ensuring these chargers are well-maintained and in operating condition, so you can get throughout anywhere in the state and you can get a fast charge.”

Peter Brownstein, an electric vehicle owner in Salt Lake City, said he’s been happy with his Chevy Bolt. However, he has yet to take a road trip because of concerns about the availability of fast chargers.

“At the moment, it’s been kind of limited, and you have to plan it out sort of cautiously,” Brownstein said, adding: “There have been occasions that if I had to go somewhere, we might look and figure out another vehicle to take.”

The power company will offer two types of EV chargers: 150 kW and 350 kW. They can provide 100 miles of range in 12 minutes and 5 minutes, respectively. Newer models of EVs are starting to offer the higher-capacity charging capability. 

The full built-out of the 20 charging sites will be complete in two to three years, Campbell said. The locations will include Vernal, Moab and Delta, and each site will have at least four chargers.

“We’re going to put chargers in Vernal, so you can go out on Highway 40. You can go to Dinosaur National Monument,” Campbell said. “We’re going to put a lot of chargers along the Wasatch Front as well, but also out to Delta so you can go to the Great Basin National Monument.”

In addition, the Utah Department of Transportation is receiving $36 million in federal infrastructure funding to install new EV chargers over the next five years. The agency has identified 18 areas they’d like to target in the first year, and they’re required to be along interstates and certain highways under the federal guidelines, according to Lyle McMillan, UDOT’s strategic investments director.

Along Interstate 15, the areas include Tremonton, Nephi and Beaver. More are planned along Interstate 70, Interstate 80, Interstate 84, U.S. Route 6 and U.S. Route 191. A full list of their target locations appears at the end of this article.

UDOT’s approach is to partner with private companies. The federal funding would cover 80% of the cost of installation, then the private partner would be responsible for 20%, in addition to owning, operating and maintaining the sites.

UDOT wants drivers to have access to fast chargers every 50 miles across the state. If the agency cannot find private partners in certain locations, then the state will own and operate those chargers, McMillan said.

On the other hand, Rocky Mountain Power will own and operate its own chargers.

After UDOT’s first year of installing EV chargers, McMillan said the agency will have a public process and engage stakeholders to determine additional locations for future chargers. Officials would like to focus on Utah’s primary highways “that go to places that people want to go, like lakes, national parks and scenic byways,” he said.

Brownstein, the EV owner, said he’s optimistic about the rollout of more chargers that would allow him to take a trip to Boise, Las Vegas or Denver without worries. He said the investment “really helps the transition to cleaner vehicles and makes it more of an option for more people.”

Currently, about 3% of Utahns have EVs, according to Campbell.

Below is the list that UDOT provided of the areas they’re targeting for fast chargers in the next year:

  • I-15
    • Tremonton
    • Brigham City/Perry
    • Layton/Riverdale
    • Nephi
    • Scipio
    • Cove Fort
    • Beaver
  • I-70
    • Ivie Creek Rest Area
    • Thompson Springs
  • I-80
    • Delle
    • US-40/US-80 Junction
  • I-84
    • Morgan
  • US-6
    • Tie Fork
    • Wellington

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More fast chargers for electric vehicles coming to Utah with $86 million investment