For Missouri electric vehicle drivers thinking about a longer road trip, planning where to charge – if there's a place at all – can be an issue.
Under a proposal Ameren Missouri filed with the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC), electric vehicle (EV) drivers will have more options along Interstate 70 in Missouri as part of a pilot installation from Jefferson City to St. Louis.
The project would build public charging islands along I-70 – the most heavily travelled interstate in Missouri – that would accommodate all electric vehicle makes and models. Ameren Missouri, a unit of Ameren Corp., is now working to identify locations for six of these charging islands, each featuring combinations of "fast-charging" and "standard charging" stations for public use.
"Ameren Missouri acknowledges the many societal benefits associated with electric vehicles," said Michael Moehn, president of Ameren Missouri. "They positively impact the environment, help create jobs, offer fuel and maintenance savings for EV owners, and help reduce our region's carbon footprint."
The evolution of electric transportation technology, in particular the propulsion battery, is progressing at a very rapid pace. But while the vehicle barriers to widespread consumer adoption – price and battery range – are being removed, there is an infrastructure barrier remaining that also needs to be addressed, said Ameren Missouri's Mark Nealon, who is leading the pilot charging corridor project.
"Missouri's charging infrastructure gap is two-fold: regional communities are not connected together along driving corridors with charging stations, and those that are there aren't fast enough to meet the needs of the long-distance driver," Nealon said. "Ameren Missouri's proposal addresses both gaps."
The project, estimated to cost around $600,000, will help alleviate the "range anxiety" an electric vehicle driver experiences when faced with the prospect of traveling longer distances. The longest range among mass market electric vehicles available today is about 100 miles. So Ameren Missouri intentionally designed adjacent charging islands to be roughly 20 to 45 miles apart, Nealon said.
"The first mass-market EVs with ranges in excess of 200 miles will be made available to the public next year, and using them to drive greater distances is going to be on consumers' minds for the very first time," Nealon said. "Someone has to act now as a means to close this infrastructure gap and address this new consumer expectation, and Ameren Missouri is willing."
The first charging island is planned to be constructed later this year in Boonville, Mo. The exact locations in Boonville and elsewhere, including a charging island in the city of St. Louis, are under study and will be announced at a later date.
As part of this project, Ameren Missouri also is proposing a "pay at the charger" transaction that mirrors a typical gasoline fueling experience.
Meetings with external stakeholders, including the Office of Public Counsel, the PSC Staff, environmental groups, the Missouri Department of Transportation, and the Missouri Division of Energy, took place this spring and summer, providing valuable input on Ameren Missouri's proposal.