Nevada creating 'electric highway' for EVs

Electric HwyCARSON CITY, Nev. — In the Silver State, the information superhighway making way for the Nevada Electric Highway.

Gov. Brian Sandoval and NV Energy unveiled the Nevada Electric Highway on Tuesday, a network of charging stations planned along U.S. Route 95 that would finally make it far easier to drive sparsely populated, mostly desert route between Reno and Las Vegas with an electric vehicle.

Though only about 1,400 electric vehicles are registered in Nevada, the state has been paying close attention to EVs lately because of Tesla Motors. The electric-car maker is building its giant battery “gigafactory” outside of Reno. So the state’s fortunes will be tied to the success of electric cars.

Officials thought making charging easy along the only major highway connecting the state’s two largest cities would be a good place to start.

“We’ve all driven this road before and have anxiety (even) with getting gas,” said Sandoval. “Now we can have confidence to charge our electric vehicles and drive them from place to place (in Nevada).”

The state has 150 charging stations installed so far. The Nevada Electric Highway initiative will kick off by adding five more by November. What makes those five stations especially crucial is where they’ll be located. In addition to connecting the northern and southern parts of the state for electric vehicle owners, the Electric Highway is also expected to link rural areas and bring business to those communities from EV owners who make the stop to charge their cars.

The state says it is looking for community partners in rural areas such as Fallon, Hawthorne, Tonopah, Beatty and Indian Springs. Potential sites include businesses near U.S. Route 95 that are willing to host the charging stations, which will be installed for free by NV Energy. Host sites must agree to let consumers use the stations at no charge for at least five years and make them available for 24 hours.

Each charging station will come with two Level 2 chargers that can charge vehicles in several hours plus one Direct Current or DC Fast Charger that can juice up compatible vehicles in less than an hour. The state is also working with Tesla Motors to help increase the number of Tesla fast chargers in the state as well.

The charging stations can be expensive, costing $6,000 for a basic version and even more for those that feature fast charging, according to NV Energy.

“It’s close to a 7 1/2-hour drive and one day, you’ll be able to do it with an electric vehicle,” said NV Energy CEO Paul Caudill.