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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Riley Beggin

Feds finalize Buy America rules for EV chargers

WASHINGTON — All electric vehicle chargers funded through the federal government must be assembled in the United States, the Department of Transportation announced Wednesday.

The final guidance from the Federal Highway Administration also requires all iron and steel charger enclosures be manufactured in the United States, Biden administration officials said. By July 2024, at least 55% of the cost of all components will also need to be built in the United States.

It's the latest in the administration's plan to build a network of EV chargers along the nation's major highways, an approach aimed at easing drivers' fears that they won't be able to go long distances in zero-emission vehicles.

It also aligns with a former proposal from the FHWA that would phase-in requirements for charger components, giving companies until mid-2023 to build chargers with at least 25% of the cost coming from U.S.-made components if they want federal funding and ramp up to 55% in 2024.

Thirteen companies told FHWA they could build chargers that fit the requirements, but only three — ChargePoint, FreeWire Technologies Inc. and Rhombus — said they could build fast chargers. Industry experts said demand for chargers already is outpacing supply, and funding for the national charging network will only exacerbate that.

Charging companies, however, pushed FHWA to go beyond their initial proposal by delaying the implementation of the requirements until at least 2024.

A full waiver of Buy America rules remained in effect as FHWA shaped the final rule.

The infrastructure law enacted in 2021 appropriated $5 billion for the charging network. The government will pay up to 80% of the cost of installing chargers along designated "alternative fuel corridors" in the states. The Department of Energy also announced $7.4 million in funding for medium- and heavy-duty EV charging projects across 23 states on Wednesday.

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