December 27, 2022

Preparing Rural America for Electrification


4 Min. Read

Electric vehicle (EV) sales have continued to exponentially grow in 2022 as electrification becomes a greater part of our lives. While more people are driving electric cars in urban and suburban areas, the same cannot be said for rural America, and it’s not for a lack of interest. More than 57 million Americans live in rural areas, but the challenges facing electrification in these areas are vastly different than those experienced in urban areas. Rural drivers tend to drive more, spend more on driving costs for their vehicles, and do not have access to the same transportation alternatives as urban drivers. Rural communities also have much to gain from EV deployment and adoption, and with recent technology developments, EV technology is ready for use in rural America. It is time for rural Americans to invest in electrification and join the energy transition for a more resilient future.

Federal Funding is Available

Funding from federal agencies and state governments has been made available to help rural America drive electricity, with a large portion specifically for rural communities. This includes federal funding for rural communities in the Charging & Fueling Infrastructure Competitive Grant Program, with more than $1.25 billion available. Other funding sources include funding for EVs and charging infrastructure through existing federal programs, including the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program, the Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Transportation Block Grants, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Diesel Emissions Reduction (DERA) Program. These programs offer incentives for bringing EVs and charging stations to rural communities today.

The federal government aims to have half of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2030 zero-emission vehicles and build a convenient national network of 500,000 EV chargers for all Americans. Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to set aside $7.5 billion in new funding for EV charging stations. This includes funding for rural communities across the country to provide assistance with rural EV charging projects.

Challenges to Rural EV Usage

Rural Americans and those who drive in rural America should have the same confidence that they can recharge their vehicle when and where they need to, just as they would be able to refuel a gas car. This presents a challenge in planning and developing charging stations across rural America that meet the needs of rural drivers and how to fund these EV charging stations and the necessary infrastructure to power them.

Various electric programs are available that make direct loans and loan guarantees (FFB), grants, and other energy project financing to provide electric utilities that serve customers in rural areas. However, public charging stations alone are insufficient to support rural electric needs, so to help rural Americans drive electric, power their homes, and operate electrical equipment, other alternatives will need to supplement the power provided with increased EV charging station infrastructure. This can include Level 2 Charging Stations for at-home charging, the use of electric farm equipment, and the utilization of solar or storage batteries.

Rural Americans have other point-of-entry barriers, particularly those linked to EV sales. Manufacturers will need to connect more closely with rural customers, and local dealerships will need further incentives to stock EVs. With this in mind, new point-of-sale credits for EVs could increase EV sales in rural areas.

Using EV Farm Equipment?

Another use for rural Americans for EVs could be the transition to electric farm equipment. Sustainable farm practices have drastically increased in the past five years, and with this, there is greater interest in battery-powered tractors and skid-steer loaders. Adopting such technology could reduce the traditional fuel and maintenance costs rural landowners have faced with diesel-powered machinery. EV tractors also offer ways to reduce labor requirements and better evaluate crop conditions, however, the use of such technology has faced challenges from the rural grid.

One solution for charging EV farming equipment lies in the use of solar energy and microgrids in rural homes. Adapting solar or storage projects would offer a sustainable solution to address rural charging needs for EVs. Using mobile, grid-independent EV charging offers rural Americans an exciting opportunity to drive electric while also lowering development costs. Land currently not in use could also be leased for producing solar energy to boost income or, in turn, replace the use of diesel on-site with renewable power through solar energy and storage.

The rural electrical grid is the largest barrier to EV usage on a large scale in rural America. The use of EVs will require increased production and resilience of the electrical grid. Therefore, new ways to produce energy are needed.

Level 2 Charging Stations are Necessary

Qmerit installs Level 2 EV Charging Stations at your convenience and is the most trusted installation partner in North America to provide safe and reliable charging. As rural Americans face concerns with charging their EVs and EV farming equipment at home, having an independently owned Level 2 EV Charging Station will allow them to conveniently charge overnight and on-demand. There are many incentives available for homeowners, multifamily properties, and other commercial properties that can assist with affording Level 2 EV Charging Stations and Qmerit can assist with your project planning and implementation. At Qmerit, we make electrification easy so you can reap the rewards of a more resilient future

Author: Greg Sowder

Greg Sowder

President, Qmerit Network