The same Volkswagen settlement that is funding more electric vehicle infrastructure in Baton Rouge will also fund specialized fueling stations across major highways in the state, potentially boosting tourism and elective vehicle use.
Interstates 10, 12, 20 and 49 would all become alternative fuel corridors, featuring multiple alternative fuel stations with propane, compressed natural gas and chargers for electric vehicles under a Federal Highway Designation sought by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
DEQ Secretary Chuck Brown led the effort, petitioning the FHA for the designation. The highways already have natural gas and propane fuel stations, but to complete the corridors the state needs to build more EV charging stations to meet FHA requirements, Brown says.
That’s where the VW funds come in. In 2015, the automaker resolved allegations it violated the Clean Air Act in a $4.3 billion settlement with the federal government. Louisiana, among other states, was awarded $20 million in the settlement.
During the second round of funding from the VW settlement, the DEQ funded 34 EV stations around the state, and during the third round, it will fund 60 more, Brown says. Twenty of the stations funded in the third round could be in the Baton Rouge area, he says, at LSU, BRCC and BREC.
Ann Vail, executive director of Louisiana Clean Fuels, says the designation requires the state to build an alternative fuel station every 50 miles of interstate. The stations have to be within 5 miles of the interstate and the EV chargers must be universal and fast charging. I-10 is the closest to meeting all requirements for the designation.
LCF created the master plan for the project, Vail says, and calculated where each station needed to be, reached out to residents in those areas and asked them to apply for the VW settlement funding the DEQ was allocating.
The corridors would allow for EV owners to more freely travel the state, Vail says, as well as bring in more tourists.
“Electric vehicle owners get to be very loyal to the chargers they like,” Vail says. “Owners of those vehicles also might explore the towns where the chargers are located, especially if the chargers are near fun things to do and eat.”
When completed, Louisiana will join a number of other states who have created alternative fuel corridors, she says.