Fuels

When Government Says Green Energy, Some Companies Invest

But Hawaii c-store operator questions need for EV charging stations
Volta EV charging stall  in Skokie IL
Photograph by CSP Staff

From local city and county councils to the Biden administration, government officials want private companies to support development of an electric-vehicle charging network, but results of the efforts are mixed so far.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a new website, Invest.gov, which aims to provide more transparency on where government funds for clean energy and other projects have been invested.

The interactive site provides information on private clean-energy investments from companies like GEVO, which is partnering with bp to distribute its renewable biofuels to the transportation market. The Englewood, Colorado-based company, which also produces air-jet fuel and clean energy for manufacturing plants, plans to invest $1 billion in clean energy projects, creating 90 jobs in Lake Preston, South Dakota, according to Invest.gov.

$479 Billion in Private Investments

Private companies have announced commitments of $479 billion in related investments, including $137 billion in electric vehicles and batteries, $84 billion in clean energy, $214 billion in semiconductors and electronics, and $19 billion in biomanufacturing, according to Invest.gov. But the site’s information, which compiled information from press releases and other company announcements, isn’t comprehensive.

SK Signet has opened an EV charger manufacturing plant in Plano, Texas, capable of producing over 10,000 ultra-fast chargers annually, the company said in a news release about a ribbon-cutting held this week. Its standalone dispensers and power cabinets are designed for traditional gas stations and convenience stores and public charging stations. But this plant wasn’t listed on Invest.gov June 7 when CSP Daily News reviewed the site, which also omits news of strategic acquisitions, such as Shell USA’s $169 million purchase of Volta Inc., a San Francisco provider of EV charging stalls and media displays. Competitor EVgo also has expanded

Charge Up in 18 Minutes

While SK Signet said its 350-kilowatt ultra-fast charger can take an EV battery from 20% to 80% full in about 18 minutes, many people aren’t aware of this, as local officials have learned.

In many cities and counties, local officials are encouraging convenience stores to install EV charging stations, but some have faced some opposition from c-store operators who aren’t yet convinced investments in EV chargers will generate sufficient revenue to make their investments prudent, in part because they believe the chargers aren’t fast enough.

A Goose’s Edge convenience-store vice president this week opposed a local government committee proposal to require fuel stations on the Big Island of Hawaii to install a level-2 electric-vehicle charger for every new gas pump they put in, saying his sites haven't yet had a customer ask the company to install an EV charging stall.

The six to eight hours required to recharge the average Tesla is far longer than people want to stay at fuel stations, where most drivers are accustomed to spending less than 90 seconds to put in 14 gallons of gasoline in their cars, said Matthew Gustavson, vice president of operations at Goose’s Edge Inc., which owns and operates a Queen K Texaco fuel station and c-store in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, a 76 station on Maui and a Shell station on Kauai.

Hawaii County Proposal

Gustavson’s comments, which are available on the Hawaii County website, were considered by members of the Hawaii County Council’s Policy Committee on Climate Resilience and Regenerative Agriculture, who on Tuesday voted down a proposed bill that also would require an equal number of AC Level 2 charging stations and gas pumps be installed at new-constructed service stations, according to the Hawaii Tribune-Herald

“Gasoline stations are not businesses that the public pulls into and stays for a long period of time. We have a completely different customer demographic (and) purpose than Target, Walmart or a shopping center. Based on all industry studies, the average customer that patrons a convenience store wants to be in and out in 2-5 minutes,” Gustavson said in written comments.

Resident Cory Harden agreed in public comments suggesting to the Hawaii committee members “it may be better to require chargers in parking lots, instead of gas stations, so it’s convenient for people to leave their cars for a while.”

Local Ohio Installations

Local council members in Willoughby Hills, Ohio, supported the idea of EV chargers at a new Sheetz location the city has approved, with one suggesting people could park their cars while charging and go dine at a local restaurant, essentially using Sheetz’ location as a park-and-charge lot.

“That might bring some more restaurants or other industry retail that realizes they’re going to have a captive audience for 30 to 45 minutes perhaps,” said Councilman Christopher Hallum, according to the News-HeraldShoregate Town Center, a nearby shopping center, also plans to install 12 charging stations, the local news story said.

Illinois EPA Grants

Meanwhile, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced several convenience stores and fuel stations will receive $480,000 grants to install EV charging ports, including bp Pulse, Road Ranger, Pilot Travel Centers, Love’s Travel Stops and GPM Midwest. Hotels and restaurants also are on the list of 348 new Direct Current Fast-Charging ports at 87 locations in the state.

“Today, I couldn’t be happier to announce that, through our remaining VW Settlement money, we are dispersing $12.6 million to build 348 new fast charging ports up and down the state. This doesn’t just expand access for residents and visitors—it also brings us one step closer towards our mission of achieving 100% clean energy by 2050,” said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker in a statement.

The Biden administration has announced goals of a nationwide network of 500,000 chargers installed by 2030 and to help cut fuel emissions 50%. He also would like EVs to represent half of all new vehicle sales in the United States by 2030. In May, U.S. and Canadian officials announced an agreement to build a U.S.-Canada EV charging corridor from Quebec City to Kalamazoo, Michigan with EV charging ports every 50 miles or so.

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