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Nevada marks opening of I-15 electric vehicle charging sites

February 2, 2020 GMT
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A Nissan Leaf electric vehicle charges at an electric vehicle charging station at the Eagle's Landing Travel Plaza in Mesquite, Nev. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. With the new charging stations, Interstate 15 through Nevada became the Intermountain's West's first electric vehicle interstate corridor. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)
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A Nissan Leaf electric vehicle charges at an electric vehicle charging station at the Eagle's Landing Travel Plaza in Mesquite, Nev. Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. With the new charging stations, Interstate 15 through Nevada became the Intermountain's West's first electric vehicle interstate corridor. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Interstate 15 crossing southern Nevada from California to Arizona has become the first route in the U.S. West to be designated as an electric vehicle corridor with charging stations available at least every 50 miles (81 kilometers), state officials said.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak marked what he called a successful collaboration between state agencies, utilities and private industries at a ceremony Jan. 29 at a truck stop charging station in Mesquite, some 80 miles (129 kilometers) northeast of Las Vegas.

A similar facility opened in November in Jean, about 42 miles (68 kilometers) southwest of Las Vegas.

“This federal designation is not just the first for Nevada, but the first interstate in the Intermountain West,” the Democratic governor said.

“Electrifying Nevada’s highways paves the way forward to transportation decarbonization,” he said.

Prices vary by charging speed and whether stations are public or private, but the Nevada Department of Transportation said an average charge will cost $4.50, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported .

Efforts to add and identify routes with charging stations began with a Nevada Electric Highway Plan under Republican former Gov. Brian Sandoval, funded with some of nearly $25 million the state received under a 2017 settlement with automaker Volkswagen over vehicle emissions law violations.

The Nevada highway network is expected to include more than 30 charging sites on corridors also including Interstate 80 across northern Nevada, U.S. highways 95 and 93 running north-south, and U.S. Highway 50 across the center of the state. Distances between gas stations in some areas can be hundreds of miles.

“Nevada’s I-15 designation as a federal alternative fuel corridor underscores our commitment to electric vehicles and reducing greenhouse emissions,” said Kristina Swallow, Nevada Department of Transportation chief.

A Federal Highway Administration program aims to make more than 135,000 miles (217,261 kilometers) of the National Highway System friendly to vehicles using alternative fuels.

David Bobzien, Sisolak’s state energy director, said the charging station effort to reduce carbon combustion emissions comes in response to “climate urgency.”

“We recognize that the greenhouse gases from the transportation sector are the next big sector that we need to address,” Bobzien told the Las Vegas Sun.

The Nevada Electric Highway Plan is expected to be “substantially completed” by the end of 2020, Bobzien said, although it could take longer to create infrastructure or provide solar panels and battery storage for charging stations in remote locations.