The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has announced nearly $1 million in grants to install fast chargers on West Oregon Avenue in Philadelphia, as well as locations in Ridley Township, Delaware County; and Quakertown, Bucks County, as part of a larger effort to expand electric vehicle use statewide.

Overall, the $936,000 will pay for 12 fast chargers installed in those locations, as well as four in Allegheny County.

“DEP is committed to supporting this choice by increasing public knowledge of electric vehicles, making it easier for consumers to find electric models, and helping to expand charging infrastructure,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

Funding for the project comes from the commonwealth’s share of the national settlement with Volkswagen for cheating on emissions tests.

DEP awarded $750,000 for the three local projects:

  • $250,000 for six fast chargers to be installed by EVgo, the largest public fast-charging network for electric vehicles, at Cedar Realty Trust in Quartermaster Plaza at 2300 West Oregon Ave. in Philadelphia, a site that’s located within an environmental justice community -- defined as an area with certain socioeconomic challenges -- and within a half-mile of I-76.

  • $250,000 for four fast chargers to be installed by EVgo at Albertsons Acme Market at 124 Morton Ave. in Ridley Township. The location is within two miles of I-95 and I-476.

  • $186,619 for two fast chargers to be installed by EV Build in a mall parking lot at 100 N.W. End Boulevard in Quakertown. The project is located along high-traffic Route 309.

Officials said the chargers will be located in community hubs to serve local residents of single homes and apartments. They are part of a network the DEP and PennDOT hope to build to help drivers traveling longer distances from their homes. The goal is to have chargers every 50 miles along highways and no more than five miles from the road. Interstates 76, 95, 376, and 476 are key.

The DEP is also producing an updated Electric Vehicle Roadmap to educate consumers on electric vehicles, and working on a rule that would amend the Pennsylvania Clean Vehicles Program to establish a requirement for automakers to offer light-duty electric vehicles as a percentage of their vehicles. The proposal will be presented in the fall.

Many states, such as New Jersey, which offer rebates and tax breaks on electric vehicles, are trying to build out a charging infrastructure to meet anticipated demand. New Jersey also just released $100 million in funding for electrification of NJ Transit buses, municipal garbage trucks, and port equipment.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania aims to replace 25% of its fleet of light-duty vehicles with electrics by 2025.

Demand for road-side chargers is expected to grow exponentially in coming years, not only for popular Tesla models, but also in the wake of General Motors’ announcement that it would switch to producing all electric light-duty vehicles by 2035. In fact, GM has partnered with EVgo to triple the size of the U.S. public fast-charging network in the next five years.

The current charging infrastructure is only a fraction of what will be needed. An Inquirer story this week reported that the industry average range on EVs was 239 miles for 2020, and that should grow to 270 miles this year. That is less than what many cars can get on a tank of gas. However, expectations are that battery range will continue to improve.