WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas does not have enough electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to meet the emerging demand. But more are on the way.
“One way or another, this is coming, so we need to be prepared,” said Tami Alexander, the transportation electrification manager with the Kansas Department of Transportation.
Alexander says driving across Kansas can be a challenge right now if you drive electric and are looking for a charging station.
Alexander says $39.5 million in federal money is helping put in new charging stations across areas of Kansas like U.S. 400, Interstate 135, the turnpike and areas going north out of Salina.
“This is just important infrastructure when you drive across the U.S., you expect to be able to fuel your vehicle,” said Alexander. “We have had three fast-charging EV stations come online this year. We have another three that we expect to be online this fall, and we’re getting ready to roll out six new locations that we will be awarding in November, and those will come online by this time next year.”
Aside from fast chargers to get people charged again and on the road in Kansas, KSN asked an engineer if we are ready for an emerging and fast-moving landscape of more EVs.
Dr. Visvakumar Aravinthan, Ph.D. and Department Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Wichita State University, says there will need to be collaboration to make sure there is not too much of a strain on the electric grid.
“So when I look at it, the way I look at it is there are two components to the electric grid. One is sustainability,” said Aravinthan. “The other important part is security. So the customers demand electricity when they need it. So we have to have secure and sustainability.”
Aravinthan says electrics are here to stay. In fact, the State of Kansas estimated the number of EVs in Kansas will triple in the next five years.
“It is still somewhat of a challenge. The difference with an electrical vehicle is you won’t necessarily have to go to a difference place to fuel it up,” said Alexander. “You can fuel it up in your garage. Because everybody has power. We won’t need as many charging stations as we do gas pumps.”
Alexander says the $39 million in federal money will help to put in more fast chargers in the state, and those are needed now.
Dr. Aravinthan says electric vehicles are here to stay.
“They are all starting to think about electrification at some level,” said Dr. Aravinthan about major companies, including many here in Kansas. “Maybe not 100% electric right away. But they are in the process of considering it more and more.”