North Carolina’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: What’s the Deal?

In January of 2022, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 246 to address North Carolina’s clean energy economy, and promote the statewide transition to clean technology. The Executive Order requests that state-wide new vehicle sales consist of 50% zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs), in order to surpass the goal of 1,250,000 registered ZEVs by 2030. As of May 2023, North Carolina’s active ZEV registration was approaching 70,000 vehicles, including both plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. This represents more than a 500% increase from the ~11,000 actively registered ZEVs in September of 2018. With such ambitious goals for clean transportation, the state faces a rapidly increasing need for improved electric vehicle infrastructure, including investments in charging stations and manufacturing plants. 

Cooper signed Executive Order 271 in late 2022, announcing “investment in charging infrastructure, purchase incentives, workforce development, demonstration projects, technical assistance, and other strategies identified through development of the North Carolina Clean Transportation Plan.” In April 2023, the North Carolina Department of Transportation released this Clean Transportation Plan, as required by Executive Order 246, outlining specific strategies for increasing the number of electric vehicle charging stations, modernizing the state’s electricity grid, and promoting public transit. The Clean Transportation Plan notes that Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 poses valuable grounds for electric vehicle and infrastructure development. The White House explains that “[t]he Inflation Reduction Act includes some two dozen tax provisions that will save families money on their energy bills and accelerate the deployment of clean energy, clean vehicles, clean buildings, and clean manufacturing.” In doing so, the Act provides purchasers of new electric vehicles up to $7,500 in discounts, and up to $4,000 for used electric vehicles. Moreover, the Act incentivises the production of electric vehicles through similar provisions that apply to vehicle manufacturers “looking to expand their domestic production of clean vehicles.”

With such ambitious goals for clean transportation, the state faces a rapidly increasing need for improved electric vehicle infrastructure, including investments in charging stations and manufacturing plants. 

Aside from incentivising the production and sales of electric vehicles, the Inflation Reduction Act also includes various clean infrastructure provisions. The White House states that “[t]he investments in the Inflation Reduction Act build on the $7.5 billion provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to deploy a national network of 500,000 electric vehicle chargers.” The Act also alters the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Property Credit, which provides funding for electric vehicle charging stations throughout the nation. 

The state of North Carolina, its residents, and multiple corporations have taken advantage of the electric vehicle credits posed by the Inflation Reduction Act, and are investing heavily in a state-wide electric vehicle transition. This summer Vinfast, an electric vehicle manufacturer, broke ground in North Carolina on “its $4B NC manufacturing plant” and is “set to bring 7,500 jobs to the area.” Additionally, Toyota recently announced that it would be increasing its investment in a plan to build a battery manufacturing plant in North Carolina, bringing the total investment to around $6 billion. These developments, along with Albemarle Corporation’s $200 million investment in a lithium battery research center, to be located in Charlotte, NC, add to the state’s existing electric vehicle infrastructure and represent a statewide commitment to clean transportation transition. 

Charging station infrastructure within the state is also being rapidly developed to meet the growing amount of electric vehicles on the road, and make transportation more convenient for drivers of ZEVs. There are currently over 700 electric vehicle charging stations, providing more than 2,655 individual charging ports, publicly available to drivers throughout the state of North Carolina. This represents an impressive increase from the 560 public charging stations available in 2017. Additionally, Duke energy currently offers residential customers a $1,133 credit for electrical upgrades to support the implementation of home charging stations. Duke’s Park & Plug Program also presents commercial customers with “free EV charging station equipment, installation, maintenance, warranty, and network connection services.” 

Through Federal funding, the combined efforts of the State, ZEV drivers, energy providers, and vehicle manufacturers have helped pave the way for a clean transportation transition in North Carolina. In a state where transportation accounts for nearly 36% of greenhouse gas emissions, clean transportation has become increasingly necessary, prompting a laundry list of economic and environmental incentives for consumers to make the switch to ZEVs. With continued commitment to the development of clean energy infrastructure, in the form of charging stations and manufacturing plants, North Carolina may be able to achieve a timely realization of the state’s ZEV and carbon reduction goals by 2030. 

Sean Gaffney

Sean Gaffney is a second-year law student at the University of North Carolina School of Law, from Davidson, North Carolina. Sean previously  attended North Carolina State University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, with a minor in political science. In his free time, Sean enjoys fishing, playing guitar, and exercising.