The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) announced on Wednesday it is partnering with electric vehicle (EV) automaker and automotive technology company Rivian to install Rivian Waypoint EV charging stations at Tennessee State Parks.
The goal is to have charging stations available at all 56 state parks systemwide, depending on the availability of electricity and planned future park upgrades.
“Tennessee is at the forefront of innovation and infrastructure development, and we're committed to the future of the automotive industry,” Governor Bill Lee said.
“This collaboration will support Tennessee jobs and enhance our already unmatched state parks.”
“As Tennesseans increasingly rely on electric vehicles, our state parks can play a significant role to enable recreation in all corners of our state,” TDEC Commissioner David Salyers said. “TDEC is committed to clean air, and the shift toward electric vehicles is an excellent step forward for air quality.”
“Tennessee’s State Parks will be home to some of our very first Rivian Waypoints and at the forefront of our plan to provide accessible EV charging to those adventuring in America’s most beautifully preserved environments,” Matt Horton, executive vice president of Energy and Charging Solutions at Rivian, said.
Rivian will oversee the design and installation of the Level 2 chargers, which are compatible with all EV models currently on the road. The open-network chargers can provide up to 11.5 kilowatts of power, enabling EV drivers to top up on miles while enjoying a day trip or an overnight campout. EV charging at Tennessee State Parks will initially be free and drivers will be able to easily monitor their vehicle’s charging session via the Rivian app. Any potential future cost to drivers may be dependent on systemwide utilization to recover electricity costs.
In addition to overseeing design and installation, Rivian will provide any necessary utility upgrades associated with the charger installation at no cost to the state or taxpayers. Rivian will also cover all network access fees, equipment service, and maintenance for 10 years.
Under the estimated timeline, Rivian will begin site surveys and engineering over the summer, with installation beginning as early as fall 2021 and stretching 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,” Mark Ezell, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, said. “Tennessee offers unsurpassed natural beauty, and we’re thrilled this project will bring visitors to state parks, rural communities and cities.”
Founded in 2009, Rivian has development centers in the United States, Canada, and England, including a 3.3-million-square-foot manufacturing plant in Normal, Ill. More information is available at rivian.com.
The agreement with Rivian is the latest development stemming from TDEC’s commitment to power the growth of EVs across Tennessee and reduce barriers to transportation electrification. Earlier this year, TDEC and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) announced a partnership to develop a statewide EV charging network that will provide fast-charging stations every 50 miles along Tennessee’s interstates and highways. The initiative is designed to add approximately 50 new fast-charging locations throughout the state.