Biden Paves Way for More Seamless National Charging Network

The Biden administration finalized standards that will make it easier for drivers to find, operate, and pay for electric vehicle charging across the country. 

Electric vehicle charging stations at a parking lot in Albuquerque, New Mexico


P.J. Ray/PNM Resources

The Biden administration finalized standards that will make it easier for drivers to find, operate, and pay for electric vehicle (EV) charging across the 50 states. The standards will also improve the reliability of public charging infrastructure by requiring they be installed and maintained by qualified electricians, and specifying that the chargers must be operational 97 percent of the time. 

If you drive up to a gas station, you can be relatively confident that you’ll be able to pull up and refuel with ease—but that’s not always been the case at EV charging stations. Across the nation, EV drivers are frequently frustrated by inoperable or poorly functioning public EV chargers that are unreliably maintained. Even at sites where stations are functioning, inconsistent payment options often left drivers without an easy way to pay for charging.  

To address the problem, a number of states have recently put in place regulations establishing reliability and access standards for public EV charging stations, and the Department of Transportation is now doing the same for stations receiving federal funding. These national standards will go a long way in making EV charging a more seamless and positive experience for EV drivers. While they only apply directly to public charging that receives federal funding, they will likely create a de facto national standard for all public charging stations, whether publicly or privately funded. 


Dennis Schroeder/NREL, 49470

Making EV charging convenient, reliable, and accessible for all Americans

The new federal standards aim to unify the EV charging experience across the nation and support President Biden’s goal of a convenient, reliable, and driver-friendly network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030. 

Until now, EV charging has been a bit of a Wild West, with no comprehensive or nationally consistent standards for the installation, operation, or maintenance of EV charging stations. EV drivers are often faced with drastically different charging experiences across locations, including stations with different connector types, charger speeds, reliability, and payment methods. With these new standards in place, drivers will be more confident they’ll be able to pull up to public charging stations, find an operational, open charger that works with their vehicle and use their credit or debit card to pay. 

The standards also require minimum charging speeds that will put the “fast” into “fast charging,” allowing drivers to get back on the road in about as much time as it takes to get a coffee and take a bathroom break. 

To ensure chargers are working when drivers need and expect them to, the new standards create improved reliability and maintenance requirements for stations receiving federal funding. Chargers must be properly maintained for a minimum of five years and achieve an average annual “uptime” of more than 97 percent. New workforce standards will also ensure chargers are installed and maintained by trained electricians, further enhancing reliability while creating good-paying jobs. Meeting President Biden’s goal of installing 500,000 stations by 2030 would support an estimated 30,000 job-years.  

The new standards will also give drivers peace of mind that they’ll be able to easily pay for charging when they pull up to these public stations, alleviating one of the leading pain points drivers previously faced. Many EV drivers carry a mess of different network cards or download several apps for all the different charging networks, instead of just pulling out a credit card. The new standards will require that all stations receiving federal funding allow payment by credit card.  


Jessica Russo, NRDC

Establishing payment standards that provide drivers convenient and simple payment methods for charging will increase access to charging as EV adoption expands to a broader and more diverse base of drivers, as well as help avoid a patchwork of different standards across states. These requirements build on top of equitable access and payment standards previously developed by states like California and Washington, which go even further than the federal standards by requiring chip-based card readers that accept credit, debit, and cash cards to ensure low-income and underbanked drivers who often lack contactless credits cards can pay for charging just as easily. Importantly, the federal standards merely set a floor—so the half of the U.S. EV market covered by California and Washington’s more equitable payment standards will continue to reap the benefits of those stronger regulations.  

The Road Ahead

These standards will go a long way to letting drivers—no matter what car they drive or which state they’re charging in—rest easy knowing they can always find a place to easily recharge and get back on the road.  

Last year, the federal government approved 50 state plans describing how individual states would invest their shares of $5 billion in National EV Infrastructure program funding from the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law. But the states have been waiting for these standards before they could execute those plans. Now it’s go time.  

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