Industry Groups Push for Support for Private Investment in EV Charging

Open letter asks U.S. Department of Transportation for flexibility
electric vehicle charging station
Photograph: Shutterstock

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Convenience-store, gas-station and truckstop industry associations are asking the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to incentivize existing gas stations to install electric vehicle (EV) charging stations under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program.

The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) are calling for flexibility and support for private sector investments in EV charging.

“Bringing private investment to EV charging will lead to more of the infrastructure that drivers need,” said Doug Kantor, general counsel for Alexandria, Va.-based NACS.

“To do that, the NEVI program should move the country toward a competitive EV charging market with a multitude of retail businesses in all parts of the country having the opportunity to invest and earn a profit. Encouraging private investment will mean state-of-the-art chargers in convenient locations with competitive low prices alongside the types of amenities that drivers have come to expect while they refuel,” he said.

“Retail fuel companies are capable of single-handedly eliminating range anxiety,” said David Fialkov, executive vice president of government affairs for NATSO, also based in Alexandria.

“All they need is a level playing field and an opportunity to generate a modest return. EV charging availability at existing retail fuel locations will mean drivers do not need to change their refueling habits if they choose not to. They can refuel on-the-go with the same safe, reliable service and amenities that they enjoy today,” he said.

“If NEVI investments are made without any effort to drive necessary policy and market reforms, the program will result in charging stations being placed in undesirable locations and likely operated by site hosts with limited incentive to provide consumers with a positive charging experience,” said Richard Guttman, chairman of SIGMA, also based in Alexandria. “This ultimately will dampen consumer interest in purchasing EVs as well as charging station innovation.”

Fuel retailers specifically encouraged the Transportation Department to:

  • Flexibly administer the requirement that states locate EV charging stations every 50 miles along designated corridors. Rather than forcing states to meet a 50-mile requirement, DOT should ensure that states can administer the program in accordance with their specific needs, according to NACS.
  • Refrain from regulating or capping revenue earned from private sector operation of a NEVI-subsidized EV charging station and preclude regulated utilities from imposing exorbitant rate hikes on NEVI-funded charging stations.
  • Establish a transparent and uniform pricing structure across the charging station network, requiring NEVI-funded charging operators to display and base the price of electrical charge in dollars per kilowatt hour.
  • Encourage states to allow EV charging station operators to sell electricity to EV drivers without being regulated as a utility. In many states, utilities are opposing efforts by prospective charging station operators to generate their own electricity to power their charging stations.
  • Require states to locate chargers at sites that have on-site employees to call emergency personnel when needed and offer amenities that attract other highway travelers.
  • Avoid bureaucratic hurdles that would inadvertently depress the market for electric vehicle charging. The “Buy America” provision, for example, would significantly delay charging projects, according to NACS.

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