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Current Events: Nevada Builds Statewide 'Electric Highway'

Associated Press

The road between Las Vegas and Reno goes through some of the nation’s most desolate country, but more motorists are getting a charge out of it.

The number of electric vehicles on Nevada roadways has increased 500 percent in the last five years.

But with the average EV barely able to go 200 miles between charges, driving the 450 miles between the state’s two big metro areas can be a challenge.

The Nevada Electric Highway project aims to build out charging stations along the Las Vegas to Reno route as well as on other rural highways. 

The effort began in 2015 under Gov. Brian Sandoval but remains a priority for current Gov. Steve Sisolak, according to Jennifer Taylor, deputy director of the Governor’s Office of Energy.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for Nevada and for our office to build out infrastructure to make sure that those electric vehicles that have that 200-mile range, or even a little bit less, are able to travel all over the state,” Taylor said.

She said the goal is to connect all five major corridors in the state.

“There are parts of the state right now that you can travel into but depending your vehicle you may or may not be able to make it all the way up to Reno,” she said.

The average cost of the first phase of the project was $250,000 per site but Taylor pointed out those sites already had power and other amenities. The next phase of the project may cost more

The money for the charging stations is coming from a state settlement with Volkswagen and from NV Energy. But, Taylor said in the future they would like the host sites themselves to step in.

“What we’re hoping is going to happen with this infrastructure development is that host site on their own are going to want to develop these systems because they recognize that it provides an economic benefit for them," she said, "They recognize that it’s part of the broader tourism package for the state and part of the broader economic development opportunity as well as climate opportunity for the state.”

Additionally, Taylor said the stations that are currently operational are being used significantly.

“We’ve seen that the stations are being used significantly enough that some of our partners like Lincoln County Power District has actually submitted an application to get a second charging station in Alamo to add into the Panaca station that was one of the first stations completed in Phase 2,” she said.

Taylor said the electric highway is a priority for the governor and his office because transportation is the next target in the efforts to bring down greenhouse gas emissions.

(Editor's note: This story originally aired September 2019)

Jennifer Taylor, deputy director, Governor’s Office of Energy

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With deep experience in journalism, politics, and the nonprofit sector, news producer Doug Puppel has built strong connections statewide that benefit the Nevada Public Radio audience.