The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) has announced that it has partnered with Rivian to install charging stations at state parks. The goal is to have Rivian’s Waypoint battery-electric vehicle charging station on all 56 state parks based on the availability of electricity and planned future upgrades. “Tennessee is at the forefront of innovation and infrastructure development, and we’re committed to the future of the automotive industry,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “This collaboration will support Tennessee jobs and enhance our already unmatched state parks.”
David Salyers, commissioner of TDEC said that the parks will play a significant role in enabling recreation across the state, especially as consumers in Tennessee start to rely more on EVs. “TDEC is committed to clean air, and the shift toward electric vehicles is an excellent step forward for air quality,” he added. Matt Horton, executive vice president of energy and charging solutions at Rivian noted that Tennessee’s state parks will be among the first to get the Waypoints, which should make charging more accessible to those who like to get out and onto the beaten path.
Rivian will design and install its Waypoint chargers, which are level 2 AC units compatible with all EVs currently on sale. They’ll be able to provide up to 11.5 kW of power to allow EV drivers to top up during their day trips or overnight camping excursions. Charging will initially be free and be easily monitored via the Rivian app. Potential costs will be dependent on systemwide utilization to recover overall electricity costs. Rivian will also pay for utility upgrades and charger installations. All network access fees, equipment services, and maintenance over the next 10 years will also be covered by Rivian. Under the proposed timeline, site surveys and engineering will start this summer followed by installation beginning late 2021 and into March 2022.
“We are very excited for this partnership, and for TDEC and Tennessee State Parks’ commitment to sustainable travel, ensuring residents and visitors enjoy the state for generations to come,” said Mark Ezell, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “Tennessee offers unsurpassed natural beauty, and we’re thrilled this project will bring visitors to state parks, rural communities, and cities.”
Tennessee is the second state that Rivian will work with to install charging stations at national parks. Colorado was the first to get the same commitment from Rivian when it announced the EV brand was going to install level 2 AC chargers on all 42 of its state parks. The total cost to Rivian for the project is estimated at around $2 million and like the units that will be installed in Tennessee’s parks, they’ll be compatible with plug-in vehicles from other brands. Rivian will cover all charger maintenance costs for the first five years but Colorado could further extend its contract to 25 years. They’re looking at making the chargers free to use but could charge a fee depending on how the infrastructure is used and the cost of electricity.
Expect Rivian to approach more states with proposals to install their Waypoint chargers at national parks. It’s likely that the EV maker may already be in talks with multiple states including those on the west coast for a similar project as the ones announced in Tennessee and Colorado.