US. EV laggard North Dakota just got its first Electrify America charging station [Update]

North Dakota Electrify America

Electrify America launched its first EV charging station in North Dakota in November – and now the state is ready to take a big next step.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is now taking applications for EV charger funding provided by the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula program.

The Biden administration awarded $25.9 million to North Dakota to install DC fast chargers over five years, and now the state is kicking off round one. (Good job, North Dakota, you beat Florida.)

The EV fast charging sites will be no more than 50 miles apart and within one mile off exits along I-94 and I-29.

Russ Buchholz, NDDOT project manager, said in a statement, “Installing these chargers means more reliable, accessible highways and a better driving experience for both North Dakota residents and out-of-state visitors.”

Buchholz also told Prairie News Service that he hoped new fast chargers would inspire more confidence among North Dakota residents and out-of-state EV drivers:

If they know they can travel through our state pretty much at ease, and these are Level 3 chargers – so it would take roughly about 15 minutes, maybe a half-hour to charge their vehicle – I think there’ll be a little acceptance.

November 2, 2023: There are a lot more oil pump jacks than EV charging stations in North Dakota. As of December 2022, North Dakota had only 600 registered EVs, putting the state at No. 50 in the US for EV registrations. (For context, 614,300 gas cars were registered there in the same period.)

North Dakota also has some of the lowest numbers of EV charging stations in the continental US – as of November 2022, it had 139 ports, and 58 of those were DC fast chargers. It’s ranked 39th for EV charger density and has 18.2 EV chargers per 100,000 residents. (The state’s population is 672,591 as of 2023.)

But North Dakota is going to receive $25.9 million from the Biden administration’s NEVI Formula Program through 2026 to build out its charging infrastructure. It wants to put EV charging hubs every 50 miles along the north-south Interstate 29 on the state’s eastern side and Interstate 94, which runs east-west.

Electrify America opened its first EV charging station in the state on Interstate 94. The inaugural EA charging hub is in Jamestown, west of Fargo. It’s at The Shoppes at Jamestown, 2617 8th Avenue SW (pictured above). The new station features six DC fast chargers that are capable of speeds up to 350 kW.

Another Electrify America charging station is coming soon to Grand Forks, near Interstate 29, and the EV charging company anticipates installing two additional stations in North Dakota in 2024.

To put it in the simplest terms, North Dakota is an EV laggard because of range anxiety due to long driving distances (because they need EV charging stations, of course), extreme cold in the winter (see previous point), the state’s robust fossil fuel industry, and politics.

But it also has some of the cheapest electricity rates in the US, so will more residents continue to make the switch to EVs there in the coming years? We’ll see.