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Electric truck charging network needs “unicorn” sites in Southwest

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Companies looking to build an electric truck charging network in the southwest will need to find “unicorn sites” in order to electrify the trucking industry, CEOs say. 

The Biden administration has allocated parts of the $2.5 billion set aside for electric charging stations to electric truck charging stations in the southwest as part of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act. Now, companies looking to build these stations are working to find ideal locations – a difficult task in an area that is largely remote desert. 

According to TeraWatt Infrastructure, a startup that recently received $63 million to build these truck charging stations in New Mexico, a single electric truck charging plaza could need as much power as the Empire State Building, reported Politico.

“For some of these big chargers, it’s like putting a Costco in a parking space. And then putting 10 parking spaces together,” said Richard Fioravanti, an engineer who works on charging issues with utility companies. 

Between the limited range of current semi trucks, and the vast remoteness of the southwestern desert, creating a truck charging network with enough stations to actually fuel the electric semi trucks is proving to be a challenging task. 

“When we’re out looking for sites, sites that have power are held on sort of a higher pedestal because they make it easier and faster for us to go to market,” said CEO of Greenlane, Daimler Trucking’s charging company, Patrick MacDonald-King. “Every site is a bit of a unicorn.”

Greenlane has plans to build charging stations every 75 miles from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and TerraWatt has plans to build chargers every 150 miles from Los Angeles to El Paso, but both companies are a long way from completing these plans. Even if there was electricity already run to the exact locations the stations need it to run to, utility companies in these remote areas do not necessarily have the capability to provide that much power, and will need to upgrade their networks, which takes time to construct. 

“It’s just a matter of timing and seeing if there’s ways that you can come up with intermediate solutions,” said Salim Youssefzadeh, CEO of WattEV, another company planning on building charging stations in the region.

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