The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation announced Wednesday it is partnering with electric vehicle 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, including Pickwick Landing State Park in Hardin County, depending on the availability of electricity and planned future park upgrades, according to TDEC.
“Tennessee is at the forefront of innovation and infrastructure development, and we’re committed to the future of the automotive industry,” Gov. 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.
TDEC 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.
EV charging at Tennessee state parks will initially be free and drivers will be able to monitor their vehicle’s charging session via the Rivian app, TDEC said. Any potential future cost to drivers may be dependent on systemwide utilization to recover electricity costs. Also, Rivian will provide any necessary utility upgrades associated with the charger installation at no cost to the state or taxpayers. Rivian will cover all network access fees, equipment service, and maintenance for 10 years.
TDEC said Rivian expects to 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.
Founded in 2009, Rivian has development centers in the U.S., Canada, and England, including a 3.3-million-square-foot manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois.
Earlier this year, TDEC and the Tennessee Valley Authority announced a partnership to develop a statewide EV charging network to provide fast-charging stations every 50 miles along Tennessee’s interstates and highways. The initiative is designed to add about 50 new fast-charging locations throughout the state.