New EV Preparedness Program Launches in Virginia

March 12, 2024

Contacts: Zack Loehle at
or Bruce Vlk at

Harrisonburg, VA – Virginia Clean Cities (VCC) and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) today announced the launch of Charging Smart, a new designation program that awards communities for electric vehicle (EV) readiness. Charging Smart is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO). The program provides personalized, no-cost technical assistance to help municipalities set and achieve policies that facilitate the equitable expansion of EVs and EV charging in their community. Local governments that achieve certain metrics are awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold designations, a public recognition of their status as an EV-friendly community.

Charging Smart is launching a pilot phase for local governments in Virginia, Colorado, and the regions of North Texas and Southern California. Communities in Minnesota, Michigan and Ohio are already engaged in a developmental phase of the program, and communities from one of these states are expected to become the first Charging Smart designated cohort later this spring. 

“We are thrilled to launch this new program that will increase access to electric vehicles and spur sustainable development in communities across the country,” said Toyah Callahan, Vice President—Local Initiatives at IREC. “This pilot phase in select states is the first step in our work to bring EV-friendly policies to local governments across the country, helping everyone access the clean transportation of the future.” 

“Community transportation energy and emissions goals have led cities and counties in Virginia to ask to be leaders in the EV Charging Smart Program. Virginia Clean Cities is proud to be one of the early organizations supporting communities in this important effort,” said Alleyn Harned, VCC’s Executive Director.

Charging Smart is modeled on DOE’s SolSmart program, an initiative that offers expert technical assistance at no cost to help local governments adopt nationally recognized best practices to advance solar energy adoption. Since launching in 2016, SolSmart has helped over 500 local governments and their residents save time and money by reducing the soft costs of going solar. Independent researchfound that SolSmart-designated communities on average increased solar installations by 17% per month, compared to non-designated communities.

Now, Charging Smart aims to have a similar impact on EVs. Action at the local level is fundamental to EV expansion and accessibility, and by helping local governments adopt nationally-recognized EV best practices, Charging Smart will increase access to charging stations and other essential components of EV infrastructure. By helping local governments streamline their policies to avoid unnecessary burdens, Charging Smart aims to reduce EV charger costs and increase the number of EVs in the community. Increasing EVs brings numerous other economic and health benefits, including lower emissions, improved air quality, reduced noise pollution; and increased jobs as EVs become more popular across the U.S.

Charging Smart is committed to transforming the transportation system in ways that positively benefit people, the environment and the economy. That includes an emphasis on making sure that all Americans benefit from the transition to electric vehicles and have equal access to charging infrastructure. Equity is embedded throughout the Charging Smart program: In order to earn designation, communities must achieve specific metrics that grant historically underserved residents greater access to the benefits of EVs and EVSE. Charging Smart is part of the Justice40 initiative, meaning that the program has a federal mandate to ensure that historically disadvantaged communities receive the benefits of this investment.

Full details on the Charging Smart program, along with information on how eligible communities can participate, are available at

About IREC: IREC builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. For more information, visit

About VCC: Virginia Clean Cities is a U.S. Department of Energy designated coalition in the Clean Cities and Communities partnership. VCC advances air quality improvement, economic opportunity, and energy security through deployment of alternative fuel vehicles and infrastructure, education programs and other petroleum reduction activities.