Some people believe electric vehicles are the future. The federal government and PennDOT stand behind EVs and have a goal of installing charging stations throughout the Commonwealth.

Wednesday night, PennDOT met with Erie County residents to hear their thoughts on EVs and where the community would like to see developments.

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (NEVI) is $175.5 million coming from the federal government. That money is to be invested in an electricity-powered future in PA.

The need for charging stations for electric vehicles across the country is increasing as more and more drivers make the switch from gas to a hybrid or solely electric vehicle.

Right now, a PennDOT expert said 80% of people charge their vehicles from home, but Erie already has some infrastructure in place for public charging.

This may be at gas stations, travel centers, and heavily traveled corridors but more could be coming.

“So, maybe at your workplace, grocery stores, at your local park, here in the Erie area out at Presque Isle State Park there is some electric vehicle infrastructure in place and so places people are already going, we’re seeing that charging infrastructure,” said Natasha Fackler, infrastructure implementation coordinator for PennDOT.

Fackler said it’s not only an environmental benefit, helping to eliminate greenhouse gases, but additional charging stations offer good-paying job opportunities.

Erie County sees the opportunity, an administration representative said they’re looking to add charging stations throughout the region with NEVI grant funding.

“We’ve applied for about $2.5 million and that’s to put in 14 charging stations across the county in rural areas like Union City, Corry, up at Behrend, at the Erie Sports Park and places where tourists are coming, across Route 6N. We want to make sure that EVs can come to Erie and enjoy themselves,” said Jon Whaley, assistant director of economic development for Erie County.

The electric vehicle industry is quickly evolving but there are some concerns. Electric vehicle fires can be extremely dangerous, Whaley said the county wants to provide training to first responders so they’ll be ready to safely take on any incident they’re called to.

Whaley noted a wide spread transition away from the use of gasoline.

“How do we make sure we’re not left behind? We’re trying to, and I think the government needs to be involved. And you’ve seen that the Biden administration has put out the money, so where the private sector is not taking care of it, the government is going to step in and help push forward,” he went on to say.

The next round of NEVI funding will begin in the next few weeks, acting as an incentive for businesses across the region who apply.