Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilitySec. Jennifer Granholm announces $184 million for electric charging stations in DC, MD, VA | WJLA
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Sec. Jennifer Granholm announces $184 million for electric charging stations in DC, MD, VA

U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm visited a D.C. church that installed solar panels to power its building
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm visited a D.C. church that installed solar panels to power its building
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President Joe Biden's U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm spoke to 7News Reporter Nick Minock Wednesday about the President's plans to build a nationwide network of electric vehicle charging stations, high gas prices, the transition to clean energy, and manufacturing renewables in the United States.

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Electric vehicle charging stations

"We formed a joint office with the Department of Transportation and we've just put out guidance to states about where to locate these charging stations so that people can have access to them particularly along transportation corridors," Granholm told 7News. "And in places where the private sector hasn't already gone. So that we can be assured that people who buy electric vehicles are not having range anxiety. The guidance went out. By August 1, the states are supposed to respond with their plans and once those plans are approved, the money will start to flow. In D.C. for example, that means about $16 million for charging stations. In Virginia, it's a bit more in Virginia. It's about $106 million the state is going to get."

Granholm said Maryland will $62 million for electric charging stations.

"And how many charging stations do you anticipate will be built?" Minock asked Granholm.

"Charging stations themselves, the equipment is not that expensive, but the linking it up to the grid and the work that is associated with that is more expensive, and it really does depend on the locality and how complex it is to dig to make sure that that you bring in the electricity for it," replied Granholm. "This comes from the bipartisan infrastructure law. And in that bipartisan infrastructure law there was $7.5 billion dollars to build out a nationwide charging network. This first bit of funding is $5 billion of the $7.5 billion and that first $5 billion is for all states."

SEE ALSO | High gas prices drive up demand for electric cars

Where will the charging stations be located?

"It's really going to be placed along these corridors, transportation corridors and what that means is the most trafficked areas where they don't already exist, or long distances where you know, people are going from point A to point B and there may be a gap in between because there's no city there," said Granholm. "So we want people to feel comfortable driving across the country. So the charging stations themselves have to be within one mile of a freeway or transportation corridor. And then they have to be 50 miles apart from one another, at least so that people can be assured that as they go, there'll be charging. The second tranche of funding will go to provide access in more populated areas or more rural areas that are not necessarily on transportation corridors, but where there isn't much infrastructure for charging vehicles. So for example, in the cities, where people are living in multifamily dwellings and they don't have a garage to be able to plug into, or in rural areas where there just simply hasn't been much in the way of electric vehicle penetration. But we want to make sure chicken and egg right - that the infrastructure exists so that people are comfortable buying the product."

The transition to clean energy

"What are your thoughts on that transition to clean energy?" asked Minock. "The CEO of ExxonMobil came out just a few days ago and criticize the transition. Do you agree with what was said?"

"Here's what has to happen: when right now gas prices are high because supply is not meeting demand. Why is that? It's because when Russia invaded Ukraine, Russian oil got embargoed by a number of countries and they were one of the biggest exporters of oil," said Granholm. "So that pulls all those Russian barrels off the market. So now we've got a global supply crunch. And of course, oil is traded on a global market. So what do we have to do? We've got to increase supply to be able to bring down prices so that upward pressure because of demand exceeding supply goes away. So that's number one. And that's why we've asked for our domestic oil and gas industry to increase production and why allies across the globe who are producing countries we're asking them to increase production. That's why the President has released a million barrels per day from our own strategic petroleum reserves. So we have to do that. But at the same time, we've got to continue to build out this clean energy infrastructure so that we're not subject to the volatility of fossil fuels. You know, that's going to take a while. We recognize that so in that sense, we have to understand that we are going through a transition. It's not an on and off switch. We have to continue to build, build, build the clean energy side, but we can't take away what people rely on at the same time. So we will wean ourselves off of or at least away from fossil fuel. Fossil fuels will be around. And that's why the President has a goal of getting to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. That means there's some industries, there are some areas where there will still be a reliance on fossil fuels. But the point is, we want to decarbonize as much as we possibly can as quickly as we can, because our planet depends on it. All you have to do is look at all these extreme weather events that we're seeing every day in all over the country."

READ MORE | Avg. price of gas falls below $5 mark, no sign of improvement at DC pumps

China vs. the United States on renewables

"What do you think about China and their role in renewables right now?" asked Minock. "And do you think the U.S. needs to be prioritizing the manufacturing of renewables?"

"Yeah, for sure," said Granholm. "China has big-footed us, for example, on solar panels like they have on a lot of areas. They manufacture and they came in and they took it away not just from us, but from other advanced nations and they have built that big strategic plan of subsidizing the manufacturing of these products inside of China. So President Biden has said no, we are not going to do that. We want to build out the means to our energy security, and that means building out the full supply chains for this whole clean energy future. So the batteries for example, for electric vehicles largely has been done in the past in Asia. We're going to build out the full supply chain in the United States so that we have the means to ensure that we are not subject to countries whose values we may not agree with or leaders whose values we don't agree with. The President has invoked the Defense Production Act to be able to build out that supply of clean energy in the United States so we can put our own people to work. We can stamp it "Made in America" and we can be energy secure."

Federal gas tax holiday

"Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, our governor here in Virginia, Glenn Younkin, and [Maryland Governor] Larry Hogan -- they have called for spending their state's gas tax," said Minock. "The President is showing interest in suspending the federal gas tax. What's your message to the Congress right now?"

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"Not just showing interest, the President has asked Congress to do a gas tax holiday during this driving season, at least," said Granholm. "The gas tax on the federal side is about 18.3 cents, and we think it could add up, especially as states call for gas tax holidays as well. That's real money in people's pockets. So we definitely want Congress to take the President up on his call to repeal the gas tax at least for the summer driving season."

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