The West Virginia Department of Transportation has just completed a preliminary plan to add more electric vehicle charging stations in hopes of bringing more travelers to the Mountain State. West Virginia is anticipated to receive about $46 million over the next five years to assist in the development of charging stations and electric vehicle infrastructure.

“You see the economy starting to move into a newer economy with all of the above types of energy,” said Mark Nestlen, GreenPower vice president of business development and strategy.  

However the question still remains as to whether consumers will make the switch away from petrol-powered vehicles.  

“It would be huge for our state,” Jamie Spears, president and co-owner of Astorg Auto Charleston, said. 

 “For our state to get that, it would make a difference in whether we might or might not sell an electric car. They might go buy a competitive brand or they go somewhere else. It just puts us at a competitive disadvantage.” 

The department has said that over the next five years, around  900 charging stations will be installed along all West Virginia interstates, significantly expanding the charging network.

“There are 200,000 charging stations across the country, but there are only about five in West Virginia, and there is no place to charge, even for people driving through from Ohio or North Carolina,” Spears said. 

In addition, with electric motor companies crossing state lines, the state Department of Transportation surveyed members of the public, and 59% indicated they support switching electric, while 41% said they oppose it.

“Everybody’s scared, everybody is afraid to run out. It’s kind of like running out of gas. You run out of electricity, you sit on the side of the road, so there’s gotta be a place to charge,” Spears said.

While charging stations may appear in West Virginia in the coming years, the debate of whether electric vehicles are the way of the future persists.

“It’s money savings. It’s cost savings. It’s healthier for the people who ride those vehicles, and at the end of the day, it’s a boost to the economy and job market in the state of West Virginia,” Nestlen said.