Today, thirteen of Alabama’s leading economic development organizations wrote to Members of the Alabama Senate stressing the importance of additional state investment in EV charging infrastructure. Text of the letter is below and you can also download a PDF of the letter to Senator Albritton here.
April 08, 2021
Senator Greg Albritton
11 South Union Street
Montgomery, AL 36130
Dear Senator Albritton:
On behalf of our respective organizations, we applaud your past efforts and continuous support for Alabama’s business community. With the recent passage of HB192, renewing the Growing Alabama Act and the Alabama Jobs Act, our state is once again well-positioned to attract innovative industries and high paying jobs to the state.
With an eye towards the future growth of businesses in the state, we write to ask your consideration of another vital expansion to Alabama’s economic development efforts: increasing the General Fund appropriation that is currently allocated to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure. In HB309, the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) will receive $2,000,000 for the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Planning Grant Program. Due to the increased focus on the EV industry within Alabama, and lack of EV infrastructure in the state, we request that you consider increasing this amount to at least $4,000,000 in Fiscal Year 2022 to robustly respond to industry concerns.
As you know, Alabama is one of the nation’s leaders in the automotive industry. Alabama is currently the No. 3 auto exporter in the country and, with your support, we continue to make significant investments in the automotive industry. In 2018, Alabama produced more than 1.6 million engines and had more than 40,000 good-paying jobs within the sector. In 2019, Alabama passed the Rebuild Alabama Act, which created a permanent, sustainable funding mechanism to improve our aging roads and bridges. An important component of the Rebuild Alabama Act was to create a dedicated pool of funding to develop the state’s EV transportation infrastructure. In 2020, on the heels of the Rebuild Alabama Act, Mercedes announced a massive $1 billion investment in high-voltage EV battery technology in Alabama signaling a shift toward EVs. As you can see, our public and private sectors are going “all-in” on supporting the growth of the EV industry in our state.
But there is more work to be done, not only to create good-paying jobs, but to protect the growth and economic sustainability of the EV industry in Alabama. For example, similar to Mercedes’ focus on EVs, earlier this year General Motors announced it will have an all-electric fleet by 2035, completely phasing-out vehicles that use internal combustion engines. This industrywide pivot from internal combustion to EVs will increase competition among the states to lure big manufacturers and their supply chains. With the country’s largest automaker stating that EVs are the future and that the future will be here in just 15 years, Alabama cannot afford to be behind-the-curve in supporting this innovative industry.
Looking overseas, China controls nearly 70% of global EV battery manufacturing capacity, and North America has less than 10%. The US Department of Energy has highlighted this disparity and stressed the need to counteract this foreign consolidation by growing critical mining and processing capabilities, increasing EV battery production, and scaling up EV and related transportation technology manufacturing in the United States. Due to our state’s long history of mining, manufacturing and significant automotive presence, Alabama is well-positioned to assist in each of those areas and grow the state’s EV industry. And as business leaders, we want to do our part in achieving these goals for our state and our fellow Alabamians but recognize that the state government also has a large role to play.
Currently, Alabama ranks 48th out of 50 states in EV charging outlets with only 2.8 EV chargers per 10,000 registered vehicles. This lack of charging infrastructure not only is a key barrier to scaling EV adoption in our state, but also can be used by other states against Alabama communities that are competing for future job creators in the EV industry. Data shows we have the lowest per capita EV chargers among our neighbors, with Mississippi ranking eight spots ahead. Nationally, there are 9.7 EV charging outlets per 10,000 registered vehicles, showing that Alabama is more than 450% behind the national average. Recently, the J.D. Power 2021 Electric Vehicle Experience Ownership Study evidenced that the factor most cited in deciding whether to buy an EV is the range—or how far the car can travel on a single battery charge. Accelerating the deployment of EV infrastructure provides confidence to consumers, and evidence to the EV manufacturers and suppliers, how important the EV industry is to Alabama.
Unfortunately, the largest barriers to expanding EV infrastructure is its up-front costs of installation. These costs vary substantially from site to site based on differences in electric service, panel capacity, distance from the charging station to the electrical panel and many other factors. In most cases, property owners and site hosts require external subsidies to move forward on the installation of public EV charging stations. However, by increasing the funding to ADECA for the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Planning Grant Program, the legislature can help overcome these capital cost constraints and accelerate the deployment of EV infrastructure across Alabama.
Our public and private leaders are working in tandem to deliver Alabama an innovative 21st century transportation system and economy, but we know we must do more to support a growing EV industry. As a result, we want to again request the expansion of funding to the Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Planning Grant Program from $2,000,000 to at least $4,000,000 in Fiscal Year 2022. With your leadership, you have helped position Alabama to be an innovation leader on EV development and deployment. Alabama’s business leaders want to work alongside you to secure this industry for future growth in Alabama and bring good-paying jobs to our citizens. With additional funds to support the expansion of EV charging infrastructure in the state, private industry will recognize the legislature’s commitment to transportation electrification, which will set the stage for robust growth, more jobs and increased opportunity for citizens across our state. Please feel free to contact Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition President Michael Staley at email@example.com to learn more about this and other efforts to enhance transportation electrification in Alabama.
Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition
Alabama League of Municipalities
Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Association
Alabama Retail Association
Alliance for Alabama’s Infrastructure
Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance
Birmingham Business Alliance
Business Council of Alabama
Economic Development Association of Alabama
Energy Institute of Alabama
Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce
Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey
Senator Bobby Singleton, Ranking Member, Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee
Representative Steve Clouse, Chairman, Ways and Means General Fund Committee