The state of Ohio is taking big steps toward an electric-powered future, with a key focus on electric vehicles as the primary mode of transportation for businesses and individuals alike. The Mahoning Valley in northeast Ohio is the center of the transition. The area’s leaders, at the helm of companies such as Lordstown Motors, Ultium Cells, and BRITE Energy Innovators, are committed to turning the area into an electric-friendly corridor already nicknamed “Voltage Valley”. Their focus? Infrastructure advancement for all Ohioans with electric vehicles and low-carbon technology at the forefront.
The move toward electric and low-carbon technology is needed to bring clean energy to the Buckeye State. In Congress’ Infrastructure package, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Ohio could expect to receive $150 million over five years to help expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network. Additionally, Ohio would have the opportunity to apply for $2.5 billion in grant funding, which is specifically dedicated to electric vehicle charging.
A greener approach to industry will not only revitalize Rust Belt towns that suffered economically due to plants closing, but it will save significant money for residents and businesses. In fact, the American Society for Civil Engineers estimates that failing to update current infrastructure will cost the average American household more than $3,000 each year. By investing in energy-efficient, cleaner infrastructure, Ohio is likely to see numerous new jobs. Prior to the pandemic, the transition to clean energy created more than 3 million American jobs.
“There is a paradigm shift underway in the transportation industry,” said Jack Marchbanks, director of the Ohio Department of Transportation. “Legacy companies are pivoting to new ways of doing business and startups are entering the market. [By working on] electric vehicle-friendly corridors, Ohio will continue leading the way in the changing landscape of transportation.”
On the state level, legislators are showing more and more support for the overhaul. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded more than $3 million in grants for 170 electric vehicle charging stations. This direct action is a result of consumer surveys indicating drivers are afraid they won’t be able to find a charging station if they need one. It’s enough of a concern that six major Ohio utility companies, including Columbus’ American Electric Power, are teaming up to continue to expand charging stations across the state. With an estimated 18 million electric vehicles expected to be in use by 2030, the stations are a necessity. Automakers including Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, and numerous Japanese manufacturers have committed to numerous new electric models in the coming years, investing billions in American production facilities.
“Auto manufacturing jobs are a cornerstone of our economy now,” explained Brendan Kelley, director of Drive Electric Ohio. “They’re very important for basically every part of Ohio because the supply chain is spread throughout the state. If we’re going to still have a robust auto industry in Ohio, we need to be welcoming electric vehicles.”
Businesses are taking note. Cincinnati’s Electrada and Dublin’s EVunited are making electric vehicle charging equipment. Even local government facilities and small businesses are beginning to integrate charging stations as a way to attract consumers and boost sales.
It’s clear Ohio is well on its way to a clean, sustainable future, with massive potential for new jobs and economic growth in electric vehicle and vehicle component manufacturing. However, the state remains a non-zero emission vehicle state. The pressure is on the legislators in Columbus to adopt new emission standards which will support and nurture the growth of electric vehicle use for the state’s 12 million residents.