New Mexico Chooses Recipients And Locations For Infrastructure Bill Charging Stations

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The infrastructure bill that provided billions for EV charging stations wasn’t a simple thing. On the surface, spending big money and getting stations every 50 miles along the interstate highways sounded straightforward, but nothing’s easy in government. Like federal highway funding, the money went from the federal government to state departments of transportation. Each state had to come up with its own plan, and each state then needed to put out a request for bids. Some states moved along quickly, and the first stations are already up and running. Other states moved more slowly, only now getting money into contractors’ hands.

New Mexico is one of the slower ones (but not the slowest). For the first round of funding, NMDOT got 17 applications, and ended up awarding $11.9 million to six companies to build the first 20 locations. In total, this will result in 84 new EV chargers across the state. Exact addresses have not been released, but the cities have been announced.

“With the help of USDOT, the ideas supported by these awards constitute a leap forward in achieving a low-carbon future and assist in building a comprehensive charging infrastructure network that will open New Mexico’s electric drivability,” said Ricky Serna, NMDOT Cabinet Secretary.

Locations

The first station on the list will be in Las Cruces. This is important not only because I live in Las Cruces, but because Las Cruces is where Interstates 10 and 25 meet. There are currently two charging stations at dealers and one Tesla Supercharger, but having an additional CCS station will add that much more capacity along a busy corridor. That station will be built by EV Gateway.

Francis Energy won the bid for more stations along I-25 in Truth or Consequences, Los Lunas, Socorro, and Raton. Like Las Cruces, Socorro and T or C already have Tesla Superchargers and some limited CCS and CHAdeMO options. But, getting a solid bank of four 150 kW chargers at those two towns will relieve a lot of stress on the corridor. The only question is whether these new stations will have better hardware than the company’s existing stations, which haven’t been terribly reliable in New Mexico.

Pilot truck stops got another two bids in Jamestown and Moriarty. Jamestown is a little refinery town along I-40 between Gallup and Grants. There’s a Flying J truck stop there, and it appears to have already been part of GM and Pilot’s plans to build out Ultium stations. But, now the companies are getting funding from NEVI, which probably means more stalls. This one could end up being built fairly quickly. The story is pretty much the same for another truck stop in Moriarty.

Red E Charging, LLC, a company I’ve never heard of before, won bids for stations in Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Grants, Maxwell, and Bernalillo. This one was a little confusing, because Santa Fe and Albuquerque already have NEVI-compliant stations in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, so there’s something different afoot with New Mexico’s plan now. Looking at the company’s website, it already has charging stations in a number of states, so it’s not some new fly-by-night operation.

Deming is going to get a new charging station built by SkyCharger, another company I haven’t written about before. I’m not sure whether the company has done other chargers, but I do see that it’s based out of Nashville, Tennessee and is part of a larger renewable investment company.

Lastly, but definitely not least, was Tesla. As in a number of other states, Tesla took a big chunk of the NEVI money. It won bids for locations in Lordsburg, Encino, Gallup, Wagon Mound, Las Vegas, Santa Rosa, and Tucumcari. Lordsburg has other charging (one Electrify America station and one under construction Pilot/GM station), but no Superchargers yet.

There are a couple of things that are a little weird about Tesla’s win here. Encino isn’t on an interstate, so we’re already seeing non-interstate station in New Mexico’s initial award that was supposed to primarily be for those. Several of the other stations are on the list are in places where Electrify America already has NEVI-compliant stations, but also already have Superchargers. So, we’re probably going to see several of these just put on Magic Dock plugs (CCS and NACS via a captive adapter).

Either way, this is a big win for Tesla, because the company is going to get that NEVI funding and won’t need to build new stations for it. This means Tesla will have more money for other charging stations that are badly needed. It’s also great for EV drivers because Electrify America’s stations have been pretty awful.

NMDOT says additional phases of funding will be available in the Spring, which means that the process is probably moving along more quickly now. Instead of having years to wait for these next phases, the state is moving along at a faster clip.

What This Will Do Overall For EV Drivers

At this point, there’s really no new corridors being opened, for Tesla or for other EVs. This is a little disappointing in some ways, because there are still some pretty big dead zones in the state. But, we have to keep in mind that the first phase of the NEVI program is supposed to focus on interstate highways.

But, a pleasant surprise was to see that NMDOT is working with Tesla to expand capacity even in places where there are already NEVI-compliant charging stations. Let’s face it: the EA stations have been pretty problematic for drivers, even if they aren’t as bad as they are in more busy places like California. So, having open access to other options in these towns will be great. Plus, if either station is crowded, having more stations will mean less of a wait time.

The only really strange thing about the whole announcement was that the Tesla station in Encino is going to be along US-60 instead of an interstate. This could be a good sign that New Mexico is moving past year one, and Tesla’s Magic Dock savings probably moved the state along.

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.


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