Green Technology

New Mexico’s Charging Rollout Continues, But At A Snail’s Pace


The sad truth is that EV charging infrastructure is under strain almost everywhere. The places that have the most stations often also have the most EV drivers, so finding a charge can be difficult, even though there are stations everywhere. If that’s the challenge you’re facing, it might seem weird that there are still places that don’t have EV charging stations at all, and they’re not just in the middle of nowhere.

One great example of this is New Mexico, a state that’s often #1 at bad things and #50 on good things. Poverty, drug addiction, drunk driving, and pointless violence are not only common, but seemingly normal, so we shouldn’t be surprised that the state ends up being among the last to get EV charging infrastructure along the major roads.

Before I get into what’s going slowly, I do want to point out that progress has been made, especially for Tesla drivers on the Interstates. For those who can get a charge with a NACS plug or adapter, all of the state’s interstate highways are well-covered. But, for those charging on CCS, there’s no coverage at all for a good chunk of the I-25 corridor. Even worse, there are no Supercharger stations away from the Interstates, with the exception of Farmington, and there are only a few CCS stations in the southeast quadrant of the state.

The good news? There’s at least a plan for getting more charging stations up and running not only for CCS on the I-15 corridor. Stations are popping up all over the state, with a good chunk of it coming from the last of the Dieselgate funds.

A screenshot from PlugShare.com, showing CCS stations in New Mexico. Tesla/NACS DCFC stations are only on the Interstates and in Farmington (top-left corner).

Probably the biggest thing happening are the CCS stations opening up on the I-25 corridor. Once these are done, it will be a lot easier for CCS cars to drive from the second biggest city in the state (Las Cruces) to the largest one (Albuquerque) and on to the state capitol. One station is being put in by Francis Energy near Truth or Consequences, and the other is being put in at Socorro’s city plaza by NMDOT on state land.

There’s a bunch of stations going in up north, too. I’m not going to detail them all, because there’s a bunch of them, but pretty much every major corridor will be covered, and this will benefit both Tesla and CCS drivers.

There’s a lot happening in the southeast part of the state, too. Francis Energy already has put in several locations, and it’s now serving as a link for the north and south ends of the state. Drivers can drive through Clines Corners and down through Vaughn, Carrizozo, and (if absolutely needed) get a charge at a Chevy dealer’s charger. Every larger town in the rest of that quadrant of the state has a Francis station under construction or planning, which will greatly benefit the state even before anything happens with NEVI.

Along with Francis Energy stations, there are several ChargePoint stations being put in by the state. In Roswell, a state DOT yard has four stations going in, and several park and ride locations elsewhere in the state are supposed to get fast charging.

Things Are Happening Slowly

Sadly, all of this progress is happening in much the way it always does in the Land of Mañana. You see, mañana (Spanish for “tomorrow”) is always the next day. There’s no rush to do things in New Mexico, especially not the way there’s a rush to do things in the big cities.

It’s not laziness as much as it’s a cultural phenomenon, and it’s not something that you’ll find divided by race, either (but you’ll see some uninformed visitors and newcomers make racist comments about “mañana” because they come from somewhere that embraces the Protestant work ethic). New Mexico has long been a melting pot for Native American, Spanish, Mexican, and later white U.S. cultures, and the more laid-back way of doing things is something you’ll find across the board, especially in the public sector.

Add things like corruption, bureaucracy, and nepotism on top of the more laid-back New Mexican culture, and you’ll find some serious wait times on any kind of project that’s publicly-funded.

Let’s start with a thread from a local Twitter/X account that likes to track all of these things:

The thread is two weeks old, but basically nothing has changed along I-25 or at the NMDOT locations in Las Vegas and Roswell. There are also stations that are almost complete in Alamogordo, Roswell, and possibly in Carlsbad, NM, that haven’t been plugged in, despite funding having been around for these for years. Things took so long (especially with COVID delays) that a second round of funding was available for some charging stations that allowed for upgrades prior to construction (which is a good thing in some ways).

In other words, when all of the gears of government, industry, and utility companies grind slowly, then things like charging infrastructure (which requires the involvement of all three) tends to happen at a nearly glacial pace.

Sadly, This Will Still Leave Some Serious Dead Zones

It could easily stretch right into 2024 before we see stations with signs of construction go online, and it could take well into late-2024 for all of the “coming soon” stations on PlugShare to start charging cars. But, despite the long wait ahead of us, this will still leave New Mexico pretty far behind the curve, even for NACS vehicles.

The most glaring dead zone will still be the northwest corner of the state. Having a station in Cuba and Farmington will be great for travelers headed up to Durango, Moab, and points further north along that route, but Navajo lands and old Route 666 (now 491) have no current plans for future charging. This is just a continuation of state neglect in that area.

Another obvious dead zone will be everything north of I-10, south of I-40, and west of I-25. Not only does this limit EV access to tourist attractions like the Very Large Array and Gila Cliff Dwellings, but even towns as large as Silver City are left without fast charging. Driving along U.S. Highways 180 and 60 is difficult or impossible, especially given the terrain on some stretches. There’s nothing globally famous in the area, but some of the best opportunities for outdoor recreation in the state are left out of the EV transition for now.

One final thing that’s going to suffer extended neglect is the “National Parks Highway” from Carlsbad, New Mexico, to El Paso, Texas. Much of this route is in Texas, but Texas has no plans in its NEVI documents to cover any of the route, either. This is an area where both states should be cooperating to put in at least one station to improve access to Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns National Parks.

But, just having the larger towns and most-traveled highways in the state covered will be a great start…eventually.

Featured image: An Electrify America charging station in Lordsburg, New Mexico charging a Nissan LEAF.


 


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