Baldwin spotlights infrastructure law, climate bill on visit to Madison factory

Via Wisconsin Examiner:

Fresh from a marathon weekend in which Senate Democrats moved long-awaited budget legislation to address climate change across the finish line, Sen. Tammy Baldwin paid a visit Tuesday to the place where the rubber meets the road. 

Or the electrons meet the vehicle.

At Franklin Electric, a manufacturing plant on the far southeastern edge of Madison that makes a key component for electric vehicle charging stations, Baldwin highlighted the 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law’s investment in national capacity to charge electric cars along with the new budget bill’s incentives to encourage more people to buy electric vehicles.

“Not only are we making long-overdue investments in our roads, bridges, rail and broadband and water infrastructure,” Baldwin said, “we’re also making a historic investment in expanding our green infrastructure.” 

The National Electric Vehicle Initiative (NEVI) program will spend $5 billion to establish a network of fast charging stations across the country capable of charging electric vehicles in 10 to 15 minutes. Another $2.5 billion will be awarded in competitive grants targeted to further support charging infrastructure, with a focus on improving local air quality and increasing charging access in underserved communities. 

About $79 million from the program is headed for Wisconsin — enough for EV stations on the state’s five Interstate highways as well as seven U.S. highways, Baldwin said. “This public and private charging investment will accelerate the adoption of EVs, and will create good paying jobs in manufacturing, installation, operation and maintenance.”  

With a nod to inflation that sent gas prices soaring earlier this year, she also promoted electric vehicles as a tool to help curb climate change, which she tied to increased extreme weather events in Wisconsin, singling out flooding in particular.

“This investment in green infrastructure will not only alleviate the pain at the pump, but it will also pave the way to a more sustainable future for the next generation,” Baldwin said.

Jay Keebler, CEO of Madison Gas and Electric, said that MGE has been building an EV charging network for more than a decade, powering it using wind energy, and is investing in more charging stations. The utility is about one-fifth of the way toward its goal of a company fleet of all electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2030, he said.

“Transportation is the leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States,” said Keebler. “Advancing electric transportation, powered by an increasingly cleaner electric grid, is key to creating a more sustainable future, locally and globally.”

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