ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Nationwide, more electric vehicles are hitting the road year after year. That means the demand for charging stations is on the rise. So what does the future of electric vehicles look like in New Mexico?

Currently there are over 130 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations around the state, according to the New Mexico Tourism Department. But they aren’t distributed evenly throughout the state’s roadways. As you might imagine, Albuquerque has the lion’s share of the charging hubs, with over 40 stations. Meanwhile, the entire Southeast region of New Mexico only has about a dozen charging locations, the data shows.

Broadening New Mexico’s EV charger access is on the radar of the state government. Earlier this year, New Mexico was approved for a little over $38 million in federal funding to expand access to charging stations.

Those funds come with some requirements. One of those key musts: charging stations bought with the federal funds must be located no more than 50 miles apart along interstates and no more than one mile away from offramps.

EV charging stations could come to gas stations, travel centers, casinos on tribal lands, and even National Park Service sites. Government buildings and schools are also an option for locating new charging stations, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s (NMDOT) planning document.

Some details are likely to change as the project remains in the planning stages, but some of the charging stations could allow for 24-hour access. However, federal law currently prohibits chargers at on-highway rest stops, so it’s likely that drivers will have to exit the freeway into a city, town or some kind of development to get a charge.

So how long might it take to see more EV chargers in New Mexico? It might be a while, Ii a recent meeting among state legislators and NMDOT staff is any indication. The initial target for getting chargers along the state’s interstate corridors is fall of 2024, roughly two years away.

Discussing the issue during a Water and Natural Resources subcommittee meeting last week, Rep. Tara L. Lujan (D-Santa Fe) expressed frustration at the speed of the rollout. Lujan says New Mexico might be falling behind.

“We’re in a critical time right now. And I think this is probably the fourth time I’ve had a panel with NMDOT and talking about where we are with EV,” Lujan says. “We’re really behind on our planning.”

Lujan points out that California is planning on banning the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. “We’re under the gun,” Lujan adds.

So it’ll still be some years before there’s a charging station every 50 miles throughout New Mexico. But once more stations do show up, how much will charging cost? Well, it depends on who runs the individual charging station.

“Some of them are confined to business, and they would set a rate,” Alaric J. Babej, the manager of the Customer Energy Solutions Team at the Public Service Company of New Mexico, says. “Right now, fueling an EV is equivalent to $1 per gallon.”

In New Mexico, that means charging could be more expensive in some areas than others, just as gasoline is now. NMDOT will own a few of the fastest chargers, and are likely to be competitively priced, but most chargers will be owned by whoever owns the charger location, explains Paul Montoya the Program Director for NMDOT.

“We already have contracts in place to install four public-facing fast chargers, and those will be owned and maintained by NMDOT,” says Montoya. “That’ll be a very small inventory. The rest of the EV infrastructure, we will be working with communities, and again, making sure that these are based in rural areas everywhere in New Mexico to where we can allow the motoring public to have access.”