Fuels

Love’s Executive Testifies on Alternative Fuels Before House Subcommittee

Okafor champions consumer-oriented approach focused on truckstops, travel centers, convenience stores
love's ev charging
Photograph courtesy of Love's Travel Stops & Country Stores

The right policy framework and incentive structure will advance the market for alternative fuels, including electricity, while lowering carbon emissions for transportation energy, a representative of the truckstop, travel plaza and fuel retailing industry testified today before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Kim Okafor, general manager of zero emission solutions for Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores Inc. and Trillium Energy, testified on behalf of the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) at the House Subcommittee hearing examining fleet electrification policies.

kim okafor love's

Okafor is also among CSP’s Power 20 for 2024—the c-store industry executives who are leading the way in EV charging.

  • Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, based in Oklahoma City, is No. 16 on CSP’s 2024 Top 40 Update to the2023 Top 202 ranking of U.S. c-store chains by store count. Watch for the full 2024 Top 202 ranking in the June issue of CSP magazine and in CSP Daily News.

 

NATSO and SIGMA, which represent approximately 80% of fuel sold at retail, support policies that incentivize fuel retailers to invest in alternative fuels, they said.

Okafor said that a consumer-oriented approach is the best way to encourage the market to gravitate to lower-carbon fuel options while also enhancing fueling options for consumers.

“The refueling experience for alternative fuels should be as similar as possible to today’s refueling experience and offer the services and amenities that consumers have come to expect alongside such a network, including 24-hour access, foodservice, security, restrooms and lighting,” she testified. “Fuel retailers are best positioned to provide alternative sources of transportation energy because we have a keen understanding of on-the-go refueling preferences based on decades of studying them. This fact is essential when it comes to adoption of EVs or other alternative fuel vehicles.”

Okafor added, “For any solution to work, it must promote competitive market dynamics and work with consumers’ existing behavior and the business infrastructure we have. If policy does that and ensures a functioning private market, then private dollars will make sure infrastructure is there to meet consumers’ needs. If that is not done, it is likely that any public dollars spent will be stranded and wasted in ways that do not serve an appreciable number of consumers and cost far more than any benefit they produce.”

Fuel retailers are at the forefront of investments in new refueling technologies and their required infrastructure, said NATSO and SIGMA. The industry is actively participating in the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) grant program in almost every state, and more than half of all EV charging stations under the NEVI grant program are set to be constructed at truckstops, travel centers, convenience stores and other fuel retailers. Incentivizing fuel retailers and their nationwide network to offer more alternative fuels while providing consumers with the ongoing, positive refueling experience they expect will facilitate a faster, more widespread transition to electric vehicle charging, according to the groups.

Changes to the transportation energy market must work for the American consumer to be viable, Okafor testified. Electric vehicle drivers expect a seamless and predictable experience like their current refueling experience, which includes safe, accessible amenities and affordable, competitive prices.

Okafor also testified that hydrogen represents a more compelling emissions reduction technology than electricity for heavy-duty trucking. Hydrogen can leverage the existing refueling infrastructure and energy supply chain while providing the same refueling experience as liquid fuels.

Okafor cautioned that market challenges continue to undermine the private sector’s ability to profitably invest in EV charging stations. She underscored the need for competitive, transparent electricity pricing to ensure that every business pays the same electricity rate to supply their EV charging stations. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also must harmonize state application standards under the NEVI grant program to ensure that consumers’ charging experiences are consistent from state to state.

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