Nevada is expected to be crisscrossed by a highway system full of electric-vehicle charging stations by the end of the year, and the state’s steady march forward on the issue has earned one stretch of road a federal designation.
The section of Interstate 15 that connects California and Arizona through Southern Nevada will be designated an alternative energy corridor, a federal label for parts of interstates with alternative fueling options — think electricity or hydrogen — at least every 50 miles.
The announcement was made at an event in Mesquite, led by remarks from Gov. Steve Sisolak, at which multiple electric charging stations were unveiled at a Flying J truck stop.
The first charging stations on I-15 were unveiled in Jean in November, and charging stations are located elsewhere on the highway throughout the Las Vegas metropolitan area, in Moapa and now in Mesquite.
In his remarks, Sisolak touted Nevada’s work on renewable energy and the support I-15’s charging infrastructure will give travelers between California and Arizona. He said Nevada will be a “keystone state for travel from the Intermountain West to the West Coast and back.”
“This federal designation is not just the first for Nevada, but the first interstate in the Intermountain West,” he said in a statement. “The collaboration between Nevada’s key agencies, utilities and private industry in electrifying Nevada’s highways paves the way forward to transportation decarbonization.”
The sites in Mesquite were developed in partnership with the local electric cooperative, Overton Power District 5. In a statement, Mendis Cooper, the cooperative’s general manager, said the sites will support work to diversify the Nevada economy and reduce carbon emissions.
“The two charging stations in OPD5’s service territory brings new economic and tourism opportunities to our businesses and communities, while bringing new, cleaner vehicle options to the residents we serve,” Cooper said.
The corridor designation comes after continued work on the Nevada Electric Highway Plan, an initiative begun under former Gov. Brian Sandoval and continued under Sisolak. The plan is meant to place vehicle charging stations throughout the state, facilitating highway use for electric cars.
David Bobzien, director of the governor’s Department of Energy, said work on placing electric charging stations has made traveling with electric cars more viable.
“It really is a network that enables travel to almost all parts of the state at this point,” Bobzien said.
Because the corridor designation is made on the federal level, only roads that are part of the interstate system can receive the designation.
The program, run by the Federal Highway Administration, is aimed at creating a nationwide network of roads that are friendly to vehicles that use alternative fuels. According to the agency’s website, more than 135,000 miles of the National Highway System have the designation.
Highways outside the interstate system in Nevada, including U.S. 50 and U.S. 93, are marked on the Nevada Electric Highway Plan for further electric charging station development.
Bobzien said that Sisolak’s administration is concerned with the impact vehicle transportation and the release of greenhouse gases can have on the climate.
“Under Gov. Sisolak, there is climate urgency and imperative to this project,” Bobzien said. “We recognize that the greenhouse gases from the transportation sector are the next big sector that we need to address.”
Bobzien said that the Nevada Electric Highway Plan is expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of the year, barring locations so far removed from existing infrastructure that they may require development of independent power systems, such as solar panels and battery storage, for power charging stations.