Webinar: Meet and Greet Gabe Klein, Joint Office Executive Director (Text Version)
This is a text version of the webinar Meet and Greet Gabe Klein, Joint Office Executive Director presented on Jan. 24, 2023.
Stephen Lommele, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Welcome, everyone. It's 1 o'clock Mountain, 3 o'clock Eastern. We are just going to get started here in a second, waiting for a few more folks to join. I continue to see lots of participants joining. So we're just going to give it another few seconds here. And then we'll go ahead and get started.
All right, we're a minute after the hour. I'd like to welcome you all to today's Joint Office of Energy and Transportation webinar. This is a webinar to meet our new Executive Director, Gabe Klein. And if you can advance the next slide, please.
All right, so just want to cover a few housekeeping tips before we get started. There are controls located at the bottom of your screen. So if they aren't appearing, you can move your cursor to the bottom edge. And we are going to be taking questions during the webinar and addressing those after Gabe's presentation. So please submit your questions using the Q&A window at the bottom of your screen. Next slide, please.
So I did want to let you all know that today's webinar is being recorded and may be posted on the Joint Office website driveelectric.gov or used internally. So if you do speak during the webinar or use video, you are presumed to consent to recording and use of your voice or image. Next slide, please.
Well, first off, I want to introduce Gabe Klein, executive director of the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. Gabe joined the Joint Office back in September of 2022. And previously, he worked as the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation as well as the director of the Washington, D.C., District Department of Transportation, where he focused on revamping technology platforms and government processes and also putting people versus cars first on city streets. So that included launching two of the first and largest solar-powered bike share systems in the country and building protected bike lanes and better pedestrian infrastructure for vulnerable citizens citywide.
Gabe also honed his creativity and leadership while working in business as a vice president at Zipcar and national director of stores at Bikes USA. And then he co-founded CityFi, which is a consulting firm, to help city leaders, chief executive officers, and others understand the complexities of the 21st century. Back in 2015, Gabe also published the book Start-Up City, focused on inspiring private and public entrepreneurship and getting projects done and having fun.
OK, so with that, I just wanted to give you guys a brief agenda for today's call. So Gabe is going to start out with an overview of the Joint Office priorities and what the Joint Office is focused on. And then we'll cover some of the technical assistance that the Joint Office has been offering and providing to states communities and other stakeholders. We're also going to touch on equity and Justice40 and then what's next for the Joint Office.
At the end of Gabe's presentation, we will have an opportunity for all of you to submit questions. You can submit those, of course, during the webinar as well. And we'll be collecting those. And I'll be facilitating that Q&A after the presentation. With that, Gabe, I'm going to turn it over to you and advance to the next slide.
Gabriel Klein, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Great. Thank you, Steve. And for those of you that don't know, at the federal government, we still do have fun. And there's a lot of work to do. It's a critical time in this country's history when it comes to energy and transportation and climate.
And on behalf of everybody here at the Joint Office—there's 23 of us, on our way to 50. And we are hiring, by the way. If you go to our website, you can look at the 16 open positions that we have right now. But we're incredibly honored to do this work on behalf of President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Buttigieg, Secretary Granholm. And I'm honored to be here today to introduce myself to you thanks to the almost 1,000 of you that registered for today's webinar.
And we're going to go over a bit of our office, as Steve said, and some of our immediate term priorities. But first, for those of you that don't know a lot about what the Joint Office is, let me cover that quickly. And first of all, just so you know, the federal government has never built a joint office across multiple agencies. So this is a first for the federal government.
And I think it speaks to the Biden administration's focus on outcomes and breaking down silos to get work done on behalf of the American people. This is complex. We are reinventing the economy, really, and the country around renewable energy and electrification. And it's a big effort. And we'll talk a little bit more about what's happening across the government.
But our office is initially very focused on bridging DOT, DOE, and sometimes the wonderful and brilliant folks at the White House as well, and figuring out how to assemble the resources to provide technical assistance for all of our stakeholders for EV charging and refueling infrastructure, particularly around the NEVI program, which we'll talk about, as well as the CFI program, the two discretionary grant programs that are coming.
But as you can see, we have a $300 million operating budget. And we have, beyond technical assistance, eight other areas of major emphasis, including data sharing as well as transmission pilots and interstate rights of way, research strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change, accommodations policy for utilities in the public right of way. And I think number nine is great.
Any other issues the Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Energy identifies issues of joint interest because this is new. And as I've been saying a lot lately, repeating Secretary Buttigieg, who said, it used to be that he thought these were two-phase programs. You spend a lot of time working on the legislation. You pass the legislation. Then you implement.
And he's saying now he's learned that you pass the legislation. You implement the first year. And you learn. And you iterate and pivot. And then you implement the program. And so as we head into our second year here, we are very much doing that.
In terms of what our mission is, it's to accelerate an electrified transportation system that's affordable, convenient, equitable, reliable, and safe. Our vision is a future where everyone can ride and drive electric. So a couple of things I would add to this.
In addition, our mission is to make it frictionless. We know that the DC fast charging system in the United States now is not as reliable as it needs to be. And it's fractured. As we build a national system, it needs to be interoperable. It needs to have simple, easy-to-use payment systems.
We need established data standards and a flow of data that is transparent to the different stakeholders that need it while preserving privacy, of course, and proprietary information. Is it a tall order? Yes. Can it be done? Absolutely.
And in terms of a vision where everyone can ride and drive, the idea here is that different contexts are going to need different things. We have people in rural areas that are going to need to own an F-150 Lightning perhaps. We may have people in the suburb with the Chevy Bolt.
We may have people in a rapidly urbanizing suburb or a city that just need access to a vehicle. Or perhaps they're going to be riding transit on a daily basis. Or, as I learned recently, we have more people even on school buses than on transit. And so the school bus program is equally important.
And then we've got, as I said, our core NEVI program that we worked on in 2022 and continue to work on. And keep in mind that as a five-year program, that means that the states resubmit their NEVI plans each year, again, in the spirit of learning, iterating, pivoting, and being as responsible as possible with the taxpayers' money.
The Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Programs are in the coming weeks. This is very exciting because we have $1.25 billion in community grants, $1.25 billion in corridor grants. It's not just EV charging. Also, hydrogen, natural gas, propane. We think the bulk will be EV charging. And here's the details on those programs, for the $5 billion NEVI program, they need to be installed along a designated alternative fuel corridor. And those have been designated over the previous years.
However, there's an opportunity to continue to designate those corridors or new corridors as needed on an annual basis. States were required to develop an EV Infrastructure Deployment Plan and update annually. And by the way, I know we got a lot of questions about utilities. They are also required to interface with utilities and establish what that implementation will look like with the utility when they submit their plan. And that will continue to, I think, amp up over the life of the NEVI program.
There is also a 10% set-aside for EV Formula funding for grants. So about $460 million. And that can go to states and local governments, particularly once the alternative fuel corridors are built out. So if there's additional assistance needed in a particular area, fill in on a corridor, that 10% set-aside can be utilized for that.
In terms of the station design, we're working on the proposed minimum federal EV charging standards and requirements right now as we speak with federal highways. And this will define the minimum number of charging ports, power level, acceptable connector types, payments, interoperability, data standards, all of that. You should see that actually in the coming days, if not weeks.
We're very excited about that. And as everybody knows already, it's going to be a minimum of four ports capable of providing at least 150 kilowatts to every vehicle. But you'll get all of the other standards in the coming days.
All the state plans and planning websites are conveniently collated in one place on our website at driveelectric.gov. I've been hammering Steve, who you heard from earlier, to try to get rideelectric.gov also so we can point them both. But send the message that we are about riding or driving, whether you're on a school bus, a transit vehicle, or even an electric bicycle.
In terms of the discretionary grant programs, we're going to be ramping up to support that to be very different. Because in addition to the states—and we have great partnerships, by the way, with AASHTO and NASEO at the state level to disseminate information. Now, we're talking about working closely with MPOs; with cities; with towns; with Indian reservations, which you've already been interfacing with. So there's a huge opportunity here at the local level, at the city level to start thinking about what we want that context to look like, how multimodal it should be, what multiunit developments look like with multiunit charging. Is there going to be car sharing and services that are utilizing that? TNCs, for instance, taxis, so on and so forth. So that gets more complex. Also, really, really exciting.
So let's quickly go over guidance and technical assistance. So these programs are designed to be complementary, to fill in gaps and provide charging infrastructure across the country. So the end goal is, obviously, to create a national network. And we're asking ourselves and our partners, how do we ensure that no matter where you're using electrified transportation in the United States, you can move with confidence?
So we talk a lot about what does success mean. We want to have a national charging network in five years that embodies certain foundation-- foundational, excuse me, principles. We want a great customer experience. When we launched, for instance, Capital Bikeshare in DC, gosh, 12 years ago, the biggest compliment I got was, this is a government program? We're like, yes, it is.
Because it was seamless to use. It operated just as you would utilize any private sector service. And that's the sign of a great, either government service or public-private partnership. And we know that with the NEVI program, with the CFI program, while there's a lot of government funding at the federal level, there will also be match made at the local level, the state level with private sector funds, and that the bulk of the program will be built and operated by the private sector.
So these are true public-private partnerships. And we want to capitalize on the best of benchmarks in the public sector and the private sector. And that's what I've tried to do in my career and I hope to bring to this office.
We want it to be affordable. So by creating an open market with interoperable standards so that it feels like the same experience no matter what charger you go to, we want to create that seamless, frictionless experience while also fostering competition and innovation, which is good for the taxpayer, good for the consumer. It needs to be reliable. It needs to work every time you use it just like the gas pump does. And we want to create the foundation for vehicle to grid integration. We also got lots of questions about impacts on the grid. And we think that-- again, thinking more broadly about creating the next generation of energy systems in this country and also creating the next clean energy economy and jobs in this country, that the actual vehicle itself and the battery in the vehicle itself gives us the opportunity to create a widely distributed grid.
And my conversations with CEOs of utilities—I was at EEI, it was at a week ago—they were very excited about this. And the resilience that it will inherently build into the system. Also, it needs to be equitable. Any driver, any rider, any EV anywhere, we need to be able to serve the public at large. And that includes businesses, small businesses as well.
In terms of improving charging reliability, which we think is, it's the issue; it's very, very important, we set three goals. The minimum standards and requirements will simplify the charging ecosystem by defining the standards to follow, allowing industry to concentrate on innovation within the boundaries of common standards. Number two, we'll work with industry to standardize reliability metrics and diagnostic data so that everyone is, one, speaking a common language, and two, has a common way to measure reliability so we can improve it.
Then three, we'll take advantage of the unique capabilities of the national labs. And we partner with many of the national labs. In fact, many of our staff are actually detailed to us from the national labs. So we're going to take advantage of that to create a new consortium-- you heard it here first-- that will deliver game-changing solutions. We're going to be sharing more about this national charging experience consortium in the coming days and weeks.
In addition to defining standards and requirements to simplify the ecosystem and support industry with resources to meet those requirements, we are also looking at ways to build industry capacity to certify the chargers and vehicles comply with standards. This is really, really important. And where we can have game-changer projects, pilots to learn, iterate, and then get that information back out to states and cities and to industry, we absolutely will. And sitting within DOE and DOT, there's a great opportunity to do that in partnership with national labs, with Volpe, and others.
So we realize that this critical work precedes the establishment of our office. In many ways, we're the new kid on the block. As I said before, we have 23 wonderful, really smart people. But there are hundreds, there are thousands of people out there, many of you on this call that have been dedicated to approaching this work. And we want to have respectful collaboration with all of you and with the experts out there to accomplish our shared vision.
So our idea is to have a very big tent and in some sense to be a facilitator of expertise, particularly when something is new like this. And so in is such, our plan is to provide technical assistance that dives into the hard challenges alongside states, cities, partners in order to create something really revolutionary. We want to help governments to get started building on the successes and learning from the challenges of some of those benchmark states with more mature networks like, for instance, maybe California. And we want to utilize the people programs and relationships that came before us to enable future charging experts, future businesses. The opportunity to create generational wealth for folks that have been left out of the process in the past, for instance, is very, very important.
If you review the Joint Office website, by the way, at driveelectric.gov, you'll notice that we have resources for state departments of transportation. But we also have resources coming for cities. We have an urban EV toolkit coming. We have a rural EV toolkit.
We have guidance for EV charging infrastructure planning and implementation, clean school bus resources, transit bus resources, network and environmental data, modeling tools, equity and climate impact tools. You name it, it's on here. And also, more information about our events, the release of new information, and so on and so forth.
NREL and the Joint Office are partnering with the FTA to offer transit vehicle technical assistance concierge service, we're calling it. Transit agencies that are currently receiving low-no funds, are planning to apply for low-no funds, or using other FTA program funds are eligible to receive technical assistance. This assistance can range from simple questions like how to get in touch with your utility and who the right people are to more in depth technical issues or challenges related to low- and no-emission transit vehicle deployments or fleet transitions.
NREL, DOE, and the Joint Office are partnering with EPA to offer clean school bus technical assistance to school districts. So the goal here is to provide school districts with the knowledge, the tools, and the information needed to successfully plan for and deploy clean school buses. So we encourage you to let your peers know about this key resource as you're planning to apply for federal funds and as you plan with your stakeholders for school bus electrification.
The Joint Office is also currently considering the best venue to address each topic, which includes spreading awareness of existing tools that have been developed to address these concerns; hosting webinars to bring in experts or share lessons learned from other states; developing new materials to address gaps in what already exists, which could be developing one pagers, hosting new web content, creating new tools, or updating existing tools. If you have suggestions for us, please throw it in the webinar chat. You can also go to that link on our website to send us a message. And it gets routed to the appropriate person.
We look forward to working on and delivering upon the Biden-Harris administration's Justice40 Initiative goal, which, by the way, means delivering 40% of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to underserved communities. So all EV charging programs are Justice40-covered programs. I had the opportunity to work on the transition and see this come together firsthand.
And I can tell you this administration takes this extremely seriously. And it's baked into everything that we do. On our team, we have an equity component on every programmatic team. And by the way, we are hiring a chief equity officer. So if you know anybody, let us know—or let them know, I should say.
So this initiative establish a goal that 40% of overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. And this is to ensure that communities are not left behind as we transition to new energy and transportation systems. The NEVI program, that big chunk of $5 billion, is covered under Justice40. So at least 40% of the benefits from that investment must flow to disadvantaged communities. And community engagement will be key to achieving these equity goals.
So there are three primary reasons-- or questions, excuse me, that need to be answered when incorporating Justice40 into NEVI development and implementation. One, how do we define disadvantaged communities. Two, which investments are relevant to Justice40. And three, how do we measure and track the benefits of Justice40 investments?
I don't have time to go into all the details of this. But I do want to note that Argonne has created a mapping tool that uses a DOE, DOT interim definition of disadvantaged communities that was developed for the NEVI program. And we actually identified 22 indicators in categories of transportation access, health, environmental, economic burden, resilience, social disadvantage, so on and so forth. And then we're organizing a plan to offer robust TA around identifying measurable benefits to communities of concern and then tracking those. And then third-- so I guess I am going to go into it. Because it is really important.
Third, we're asking our state partners to describe how they'll create meaningful community engagement to inform the NEVI program design in the states. And this, we think, can lead to real benefits for disadvantaged communities. And I do want to say that in my experience working on these issues, it's not enough to say, hey, let's make sure we put chargers in people's neighborhoods.
We need to really think about, whether it's a rural, small town, a big city, and a neighborhood in it, what are the outcomes that we are bringing to people? And when we undertake the community engagement process, it's really important, I think, to focus on outcomes. And the process can inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of NEVI investments to make sure that at least 40% of the benefits are flowing to disadvantaged communities. This engagement should be an iterative process like everything else that begins during the initial planning steps to make sure that the projects accurately reflect real community needs and priorities when they're built.
I do want to put in a plug for the EV Charging Justice40 Map. It's excellent. You can find it at that link. Or for me, I go to Google. And I Google EV Charging Justice40 Map, which is a little bit easier. It's a downloadable file. Again, it's got the 22 indicators that are collected at the census track level and grouped into six categories, which you see there on the slide.
Another key aspect of Justice40 is to identify which benefits are highest priority and design program implementation accordingly. You can go to our website. There's 90-day guidance and FAQs, provide examples of potential benefits of NEVI deployment.
And I will say that it's not just about the demand side. It's about the supply side. Are we creating job opportunities? Are we contracting with disadvantaged businesses? Are we decreasing the transportation? Energy cost burden? Are we decreasing the total cost of living in a particular area? And are we creating these generational wealth opportunities for people that want to own their own business? Something very near and dear to my heart.
So I'm sure many of you are wondering, OK, what is coming in 2023 for the Joint Office? It's a new year. We've got a new vision and mission. Where are we heading?
So here are our priorities for 2023. We've got to shift our technical assistance implementation, as we talked about. We've got a lot more programs coming online. We really need to build the community charging expertise in the Joint Office. I bring that. But I'm one person.
We've got wonderful folks here. But we are again, we're hiring. We've got a senior advisor for urban and community. We've got a number of great positions. And we also are just talking to organizations out there that are working in these areas.
We're formulating and executing the Community and Corridor Grant Programs with FHWA. We're figuring out what we didn't know in year one and implementing it. And we're scaling up transit and school bus technical assistance.
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, I know everybody's wondering. When is it coming? When is it coming? So the rule will be coming in the coming days or weeks. We're very excited about it. There's been a lot of work done by a lot of people. And I think it's a very high-quality product.
And in tandem, the Buy America proposed waiver was issued for comment, August 31. The final Buy America rule or waiver will be coming in the coming days and weeks as well with the NPRM. The Discretionary Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants will be coming out. And then our office will be playing a very active role in that entire program.
And then there's the 10% set-aside, figuring out how that should be spent and deploying that. Designation of freight corridors, federal highways, we'll be initiating that very soon. There's going to be around seven requests for nominations for the alternative fuel corridors. And remember that when those are built out, then states have the flexibility to flex that money to other areas, to local government, for instance. So that's pretty important.
We're going to continue to ramp up our TA. We think that permitting, utility issues, siting, future proofing-- which is a fancy term but super important. And what we mean by that is we want people to dig once ideally.
I've had this experience with many construction projects where you open up the street. You don't put in the duct bank. You just run your one line. And then the telco's got to come back or the electric utility. And you got to tear the street up again. So duct banking, stubbing out, making sure you're ready if you're putting in 10 curbside charging stations, you're ready for the next 10-- really, really important.
We have that MOU with NASEO and AASHTO. We also need to do something with local government. So we'll be thinking about that. And then, of course, the Electric Vehicle Working Group, which is just running through the process. But we'll be releasing that very soon and then having our first meeting.
So we wanted to close on how you can connect with us here at the Joint Office. Remember, we're here to serve you, our stakeholders and taxpayers. And not only is it us, but we also have a host of consultants, lab folks. And, again, we are staffing up.
So you can go to our website. You can use our tools. But you can also go to our Request Forms. And somebody should get back to you very quickly. There's what the Contact Us form looks like. You can fill it out. You can select Low-No Emissions Transit Vehicle Technical Assistance, Clean School Bus. You should get a response, actually, in 48 hours in our regular business hours. And we will either get you key resources. Or we'll provide other subject matter experts and loop them in to provide more in-depth TA. And then we also just are happy to get your general questions or feedback via this contact form. And, again, just going to shamelessly promote the fact that we're hiring. And we're actively looking through resumes now. We've gotten a lot in the last couple of weeks. We really appreciate everybody that's pushed that out. We need your help, whether it's to push this out to your networks on social media or through email, or to apply yourself. And with that, I'm going to bring Steve back to play—what is it called, Steve? Stomp the chump?
Stephen Lommele: Yeah, that's what we're calling this section or just question and answer. [LAUGHTER]
But for those of you who missed the beginning, I'm Steve Lommele. And I'm the communications and education manager for the Joint Office. And we've had quite a few questions come in while Gabe gave us that excellent overview of the Joint Office.
And so, Gabe, to kick things off, one of the first questions, you talked about the four programs that the Joint Office is supporting. But how will cities be able to participate in the efforts of the Joint Office?
Gabriel Klein: Yes, I know for many cities, it felt like this first year was just highways, highways, highways. Not that city folks don't care about highways. We have the same issues with range, anxiety. We have highways in many cases running through our cities or around our cities.
But for many people in urban areas—and that could be—again, it could be Montclair, New Jersey. It could be Des Moines. Or it could be where I'm sitting right here in Washington, DC—a lot of us get around on the bus or the rail or our bikes or our own two feet. And, again, in the spirit of serving everybody, we understand that the reinvention of the transportation system and of the economy needs to be equitable. And so that means serving rural, ex-urban, suburban, inner ring suburban, urban, towns, Indian tribes.
And so we believe that this is not an, either/or but a yes/and. And it's a huge opportunity in urban areas to think about shared mobility, to think about how we lower the cost of ownership, as I was saying earlier, of transportation. We have folks right here in Southeast DC that spend up to 53% of their income on transportation. And that is something that as we reinvent, we would like to help make more equitable and lower the cost.
So with the community charging grants that are coming and even with the corridor grants that are coming, even with the—once the NEVI program meets all of the alternative fuel corridor needs, that money, all of those monies—and many more, by the way. There's over $70 billion that can be spent on all fuels and electrification at the federal level.
We want to see real creativity from urbanized areas. And we want to think about everything from multimodal hubs to shared mobility. And how do we match up different funding streams with the electrification funds to make those dreams reality within towns and cities?
So we're very excited this year to engage more on that, to meet our Paris climate goals. Yes, as the president said, we need to have 50% of vehicle sales be electric by 2030. We also recognize that in rural areas, for instance, we might have a 1 to 1 ratio switching out ICE vehicles for electric vehicles or hydrogen fuel cell.
But in urban areas, there might be a big opportunity to move people out of cars and onto transit, for instance. And so we want to be a catalyst for great social outcomes, whether they be in rural areas or cities.
Stephen Lommele: Great. Thanks, Gabe. And maybe just a follow-on bigger picture philosophy question related to that, what's your view on the relative priority of destination versus end route or home and work charging? How do the different programs support, for example, charging in multifamily buildings, installing charging there?
Gabriel Klein: Yeah, it's a great-- I mean, there's actually a couple of questions in there. First of all, I guess I would say Eric out of NREL gave us that great graphic of the tree, being representative of the charging system. And you have the trunk. And you have the branches and the leaves. And you have the roots.
And so when you think about the way charging is different actually from fossil fuel in that a lot of people have charging at home—in fact, I spoke to this large group of MPOs this morning. And I asked them to raise their hands if they owned an EV. And about 10 people raised their hands out of 150.
And I said, how many of you charge at home? And all 10 raised their hands. Now, they also live in more suburban areas. So you realize that a lot of people will be able to charge at home. They'll never go to a gas station again. They may rarely go to a public charging station.
And so in some sense, that's like the roots. But then as people get out in the system, they need to be able to access public charging. And they need it to be fast, if it's on a highway. And so we have to recognize that for that use case, it's very different. And you need that 150 to 250 kilowatt fast charger.
For people that are living, let's say, in an apartment complex, they're not going to have a driveway, to your point. And so how do you think about multiunit buildings and having public charging? But that's also available for the person that lives in that complex that may be working as an Uber driver.
And so that's where I think multimodal hubs come in, multiunit charging comes in. There was a great announcement, actually, in Denver. Mayor Hancock just announced a partnership with, I think, it's BP Pulse and Hertz to roll out electric charging in what they're calling charging deserts that are more in the outskirts of the city limits.
But there are areas where they're on the supply side. There's a lot of people like driving for work. They're gig drivers. And yet, they don't have charging. They're multiunit buildings. So the partnership that they've announced allows them to serve people in those charging deserts with vehicles that are clean, that are high VMT, and also with charging.
And I think directionally, that's where we're going. We're looking at use cases. We're looking at supply side, demand side, and matching those up in public-private partnerships often.
Stephen Lommele: Great. Thanks, Gabe. So speaking about public charging, there have been a number of questions that have come in about reliability and ongoing operations and maintenance. And we know that operations and maintenance can be covered with NEVI funds. It's an eligible cost.
But can you talk a little bit bigger picture about what the Joint Office is doing around reliability? You mentioned the National Lab Reliability Consortium. I know we're doing technical assistance. We're thinking about workforce development. Maybe just to expand on what reliability looks like.
Gabriel Klein: Yeah, and I would say it's-- so it's one of these topics that it's not like the most sexy topic. But it's probably the most important topic. We need a reliable interoperable simple TA system. And we know, just to be completely aboveboard, that there's a problem out there. The standard of, let's say, 97%, 98% uptime that should apply to chargers currently is not the standard out there in the streets for DC fast chargers.
And so we're working extremely hard with industry, with governments. We're looking at other countries. We're looking at benchmarks. And we're figuring out with our minimum standards how to help, how to help industry, how to help government, and not necessarily create a Christmas tree type situation where you say, hey, we want this charger to do everything. And so we're going to make it a Christmas tree and hang every ornament on it.
We need to have priorities. And we need to be disciplined. And even from the standpoint of equity, a system that isn't up 97% of the time is not equitable either. And so I would say that we're working very hard on this. John Smart on our team, out of INL, is working on this. We have a team of people in the labs.
We have this new consortium, which is there to work with industry. Because this goes beyond proprietary stuff. And I'm competing against you. It's like, no, this is a national system. It needs to work really well for the public and for businesses. And if you're going to accept government funding to do it, then we expect certain service level agreements to be met.
And I think that structure is going to really help states and cities putting out RFPs. And it will be very clear. And it will be simple. Because honestly, the implementation of this technology is very complex. And therefore, it needs to be very easy to understand and simple in terms of how we need to implement it and what those minimum standards are to bring some simplicity and discipline to the conversation.
Stephen Lommele: Great, yeah. So I heard that we're setting a baseline, if you will, with the proposed minimum requirements. But then we're also doing a lot to facilitate peer exchange among the various stakeholders to work through some of the challenges that exist in reliability of our national org.
Gabriel Klein: I just gave a much more verbose version. Steve can boil it down to like two talking points. That's why Steve's great. [LAUGHTER]
Stephen Lommele: All right. Well, moving on then. A number of questions here about the role of utilities and the grid impacts and all of that. We've heard, for example, that there could be challenges in terms of timelines for sourcing specific utility equipment. What, if anything, is the Joint Office planning to do to mitigate against some of the hurdles that might be facing the deployment of EV charging with respect to some of the utility-side equipment issues?
Gabriel Klein: I mean, I'll tell you, for one thing, from my standpoint, going out and meeting with the heads of the utilities is hugely important. Creating that dialogue, learning what's real and what's not real. For instance, do we have grid capacity? Yes, we have grid capacity.
So I'm much less worried about that than I was when I took this role because I've learned that we have a tremendous amount of capacity. We have software to optimize the grid. We've got $13 billion from DOE going into grid upgrades. So we're in relatively good shape there. It's, obviously, somewhat regional.
Now, in terms of supply chain issues, those are global. They can relate to things like the war in Ukraine. They can relate to shortages of certain rare Earth metals. But I can tell you that the supply chain issues look a lot better now than they did even a few months ago.
However, I was meeting with one of the major EVSPs recently. And they said, yeah, for the switch boxes, there's a six-month delay on some of the steel needed for X, Y, and Z part. So it is real. But we do think the minimum standards combined with Buy America are going to be very fair. They're going to help industry. They're going to help Americans to fulfill these jobs.
So I think it's a very fair and balanced approach. And at the end of the day, I mean, you have a very assertive president who—I mean, even for the—we had that question about switchgear and transformers. There's a 12- to 18-month delay. That was by Lauren.
But the president invoked the Defense Production Act on transformers and electric power grid components in June. DOE put an RFI out on this for input as well in October. So I'll tell you one thing I'm amazed by. I get a little bit of a news feed every morning on what's happening at DOT and DOE. And every single day, there's so many people working on all these issues, so many smart people. Millions of dollars of announcements every single day.
And so that's the power of the federal government. And that's the power of what we're doing is to take a laser focus on these issues. And there are people here that are expert on just that thing. And then it's being addressed. So I am very confident in our ability to do this. And we have to do it.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah, thanks, Gabe. And maybe a follow-on to that, just thinking about that transition. We had a question that came in as people were registering about, as we electrify our transportation system, how will the demand of the charging network impact electrical grids? And what happens when we have things like harsh weather?
Gabriel Klein: Yeah, resilience is very, very important. Again, it's somewhat geographic and context sensitive. The issues, for instance, on the coast in Charleston are different than in Houston are different than in Texas, which has had these snowstorms and such.
So it is different. But there's a bit of a chicken and the egg here too, like, we know that to avoid increasing complexity and climate problems, we need to move over to renewable energy and electrification. We also know that, for instance—I was just down in Florida seeing where they're building the roads a couple of feet higher to mitigate sea level rise.
So there are a number of different strategies. And it depends on where you are as to what you need to do. There's a lot of resilience, upgrade, and mitigation happening at the utility level. And the last thing I would say in that is that, this is why we need to have a sort of everything approach, meaning there are folks that don't like nuclear. There are folks that don't love propane.
You know what? We are in a transition period. And as the president's talked about, Secretary Granholm's talked about, we need an all-government approach, all the private sector approach, all-society approach. And we need lots of different types of clean energy to get where we need to go. And that also builds redundancy and resilience into the system, which is crucial.
And then, actually, the last, last thing I'll say is that, the batteries in the vehicles themselves are a huge opportunity for a widely distributed grid. And in my conversations with the utility CEOs a week and a half ago, they were visibly excited about this opportunity to have a more resilient system by utilizing peak storage—or, I'm sorry, off peak storage in vehicle batteries and then redeploying those electrons at peak at lower cost.
So we have to do it all. It's a huge opportunity. But we have within this country, we've got some of the smartest technologists, the smartest energy execs, innovators, and government folks and nonprofit and NGO. And everybody I talk to is 100% committed to coming together to get this done. It's very much like a mission, like the Works Progress Administration back in the '30s and '40s, or building the national highway system in the 1950s. So I think it's the most exciting project I've ever been associated with.
Stephen Lommele: Great. Gabe, you talked a little bit about geography as it related to resiliency. We got a question here from Revision Energy. And they said that their state's PUC and legislature shows little interest in demand charge alternatives or utility make ready programs. So how does the Joint Office propose that states make deploying NEVI sites in rural, very low traffic areas financially viable for operators?
Gabriel Klein: I'll tell you, I just talked to a major company today. Just got out of a meeting a couple of hours ago. And they said that they're looking at NEVI almost exclusively to deploy in rural areas. And so I think what people need to realize is that this funding is taking projects and locations that would have been infeasible and making them feasible.
Let's say you're building out a network. And you know you're going to have enough demand on I-95 in these certain areas. But then you hit this rural patch. And you just don't think there's enough demand to make it pencil, if it just has to survive in private money. But you introduce 80% federal, 20% private. And then all of a sudden, it pencils pretty well.
So I'm very excited actually whether it's in Southeast DC or it's in rural Wyoming, the potential to fill gaps with this funding. And I can tell you that's how states are looking at it. And that's how I'm learning now that many in the private sector are looking at it.
Because when you look also at the network in a given geography, some individual stations are more likely to be profitable, just because of the nature of where they are. And others may not be. So they're going to need varying levels of financial support. But that can be flexed around the entire implementation.
And some of the states are looking to batch projects together and provide lower federal cost share for stations that will see that higher level of utilization and then higher federal cost share for stations in rural locations where demand charges might play a role in limiting profitability. And that's really why the public sector funding exists.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah, and maybe it speaks to the growing opportunity here. I mean, certainly, building a network to meet the needs of the vehicles that are on the road now. But we've got a number of questions that have come in here about medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. So specifically, a question from IKEA. They were asking, "How will the deployment of a national EV charging network support drivers and carriers of medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles?" And then a follow-up question to that is, "How does that relate to the NEVI program, and what are states doing to address the needs of medium-duty, heavy-duty fleet operators as they think about their EV deployment plans?"
Gabriel Klein: Great, and you said that came from IKEA?
Stephen Lommele: IKEA. Yes.
Gabriel Klein: Oh, great. OK, well, I think NEVI is viewed as primarily a light duty vehicle program. And I think it is to some extent. But the NEVI funds can be used to fund the infrastructure that supports medium-duty and heavy-duty vehicles.
And in our conversations with states, many of the states that are working on NEVI have engaged with MDV and HDV stakeholders as part of their state deployment plans. So we've set a baseline with the Joint Office and with DOT and DOE with the NEVI guidance that meets current and future needs. Having said that, some states may go above and beyond those proposed minimum requirements based on the needs of their stakeholders.
And we've heard this particularly in some Midwestern states. And we also know that states have engaged directly with medium- and heavy-duty fleet operators. And we've heard both states and private sector companies say that they're considering building specific stations to accommodate these larger vehicles.
There's a big announcement recently with I-10. And I can't remember the company. But because there's going to be more built-in demand, there are companies with quite a bit of private money flowing into it also looking at building these stations. And then there's also folks like the truck stop operators that are talking to a lot of the EVSPs about how to set up fleet charging in addition to light duty.
So I think we are getting there. And then, of course, you have ports. You have transit agencies and others looking at this as well. And something worth thinking about is, how do you have multipurpose multiuse charging infrastructure? So if you're going to serve a port, maybe you should be serving the nearby transit agency as well and perhaps the school buses as well with the local school district.
Stephen Lommele: Great, well, this next one is a big picture question about data. And it's got two parts. This came from Gretchen Newcomb, at Mobility Data. So as we think about building out this charging network, we're thinking about building and maintaining data infrastructure that you need to, number one, discover the charging infrastructure.
So that's for travelers and network operators. And then to optimize the systems that you're putting into place for the charging networks. You can understand how it's being used, is it reliable, all of that. Can you talk a little bit about what the Joint Office is doing to facilitate that data infrastructure?
Gabriel Klein: Yeah, and we're doing a lot. There's actually a few different dashboards, data portals being worked on. I don't want to say too much. But the minimum standards will dictate what needs to be communicated on a regular basis either real time or daily or monthly—that'll be obvious soon—and how that data needs to flow. And there are varied stakeholders that are going to want to have access to that data as well as some level of granularity for the general public.
Now, currently, the Alternative Fuels Data Center that many of you have probably seen, it's a station locator. It also has a corridor locator. It's a great publicly available resource that's constantly being updated. It is updated daily, actually. It says on it that it's updated monthly. But I actually learned it's updated daily.
We're going to continue to use that because it's a great tool. We want to build off of it. Many of the data proposed for collection through the minimum standards and requirements are currently being coordinated through AFDC. So there's no reason to reinvent the wheel if we're already doing it.
AFDC already collects data through robust data mining as well as submission requests from a diversity of sources. There's trade media. There's Clean Cities coordinators. There's the AFDC website itself. There's charging station owners, OEMs, industry groups.
But by proposing to require this data, the proposed regulation would provide an ancillary benefit to another federally funded program by streamlining the data collection burden on the AFDC. So I guess what that really means is that we want to be able to facilitate real-time updates to provide more accurate information, whether it's to the traveling public or the government itself. Are we meeting those SLAs? So anyway, I'll stop there. But there's a ton of work being done at that. And there'll be more information coming out in the coming months.
Stephen Lommele: Great. Thanks, Gabe. There's another of a series of questions that had come in related to getting the nation's grid capable of supporting all of these electric vehicles that are coming online.
So maybe the first part is thinking about what are the Joint Office views on getting the nation's utilities to add distribution grid capacity so that there's capacity there when you need it? And then maybe a second piece of that is, are state's thinking about pairing EV charging stations with on-site storage or generation to reduce some of the demand charges or mitigate some of the impacts on the grid?
Gabriel Klein: We have heard yes. And some of the companies—I just had a major company—well, few in here today. A lot of them are just moving towards that model. Some of them will put in a charger with a battery or with a backup battery. Some of them are putting in solar backups as well.
So there's a lot happening in that space. And as I said, I met with a whole host of investor-owned utilities at the EEI board of directors meeting a few weeks ago. The biggest issue, I think, is, they need more information from the private sector and from government as to what's coming.
And so what we have committed to do is to play a more active role in working on the data front, which already happens, by the way, with solar. I was talking to the CEO of Exelon. He said, well—we had this great conversation. He's like, well, we already do this for solar. Why aren't we doing it for charging? Where, basically, if you're looking at getting solar on your building—you're a developer, homeowner, or whatever—you input that into the system as a first step. Then the utilities start to get a sense of what's coming. We need the same thing with charging. We're going to be working on facilitating that.
We know that state DOTs are interested in understanding where there's capacity issues or there may be, particularly at the site level. And we know that these contracts are going to go out to infrastructure developers, who are going to engage directly with utilities to build the stations. So we need people to be more proactive on all sides in planning, notifying each other. And we think we can facilitate that by providing the tools to make it easier.
By the way, there was a recent National Grid report. They came in and briefed us a few weeks ago. You can Google it. And it's a great example of where the utilities are getting in front of identifying where EV charging might be enabled or constrained by the grid. In fact, we just had CALSTART in here today. They brought it up again. And we realized like, Steve and I need to do a webinar on this for them because it's such important information. It can save years and a lot of money by coordinating better, digging once, figuring out how to locate closer to distribution lines. So look for more information coming out from us on that—well, from Steve actually. Steve will be facilitating them.
Stephen Lommele: [LAUGHS] Well, Gabe, we're about out of time. I think I'd like to squeeze in one last question before we wrap up. But I just want to acknowledge that there are still a lot of questions unanswered. And we are going to be going through those, answering them potentially one on one with the folks who submitted them, but also incorporating it into future webinars and also getting updated information on driveelectric.gov. So the last question, Gabe, is, how can we support and help with women- and minority-owned small businesses for public charging?
Gabriel Klein: Well, that's a great question. And by the way, thank you, Steve, for telling people that we will respond to them because that is literally our job. We take it very seriously. And these are all great questions. And I see them piling up. We only have so much time today, though.
But in terms of women- and minority-owned small businesses, we do believe that partnerships are absolutely crucial and key in these programs and that interested parties should begin to partner and talk with eligible entities early in the process. So eligible entities could be states, could be cities, could be tollway authorities, whoever is going to be applying for these funds. And they will be looking for minority- and women-owned businesses to partner with.
You can also make your needs known particularly to the U.S. Department of Energy Clean Cities Coalitions in your state and community as well as your state department of transportation. And then I would advise to actually go in and read your state NEVI plan, if you're going to be applying to work on it, and see how the state is considering engagement and avenues to get involved with businesses like yours.
And then also, eligible entities could then contract with community-based organizations. So you could be a sub to a community-based organization. Or you might be a community-based organization or at least have a 501(c)(3) designation as well.
Last thing I'll mention is that the Joint Office is looking at releasing funding opportunities in the future itself. And that might also be an opportunity for community-based organizations to participate and, therefore, women- and minority-owned small businesses for public charging.
I take this very seriously. I do think it is a huge opportunity for minority businesses to pop up and serve needs and work with these larger companies. We've seen a few minority-owned, women-owned businesses that have popped up that have gone from one office to operating all 50 states, for instance, in the area of operations and maintenance of charging networks.
And so we want to see more of that. So best of luck with everybody on that. And if you have any questions on that, we have a team of folks that work on workforce, including Steve, and work on equity issues as well. And we'll be ramping up our efforts in general on contracting and procurement. We're also hiring a chief equity officer, as I said earlier. And we're also hiring a senior advisor for business models and finance and community-based charging, which directly speaks to this.
Stephen Lommele: Well, Gabe, that was great. There's so much to talk about here.
Gabriel Klein: [LAUGHS] Great.
Stephen Lommele: Appreciate you taking all of these questions. And thank you to everyone who joined us for today. We're going to be doing additional webinars here in the coming weeks. And we do hope you'll join us. And make sure you sign up for our email alerts on driveelectric.gov. So thanks so much, everyone. And thank you, Gabe.
Gabriel Klein: Thank you, Steve, and your whole team for working hard on this today. Appreciate it.
Stephen Lommele: Have a good afternoon, everyone.
Gabriel Klein: Thanks, everybody.