NATSO President and CEO Lisa Mullings and ChargePoint President and CEO Pasquale Romano said the fueling paradigm is changing dramatically with the increased use of electric vehicles and that the travel plaza industry is poised to serve EV drivers traveling long distances.
Speaking at NATSO Connect 2020 in Denver, Colorado, during the opening keynote, Mullings and Romano announced a new partnership between NATSO and ChargePoint to create a National Highway Charging Collaborative to extend EV charging to every corner of the nation.
The Collaborative will leverage $1 billion in capital to deploy charging at more than 4,000 travel plazas and fuel stops by 2030, enabling long distance electric travel along major routes and providing access to charging in rural communities.
“We want to help you sell electricity profitably to your customers,” Mullings said. “We’re not anti-electric vehicle. We’re going to be part of the solution and we’re going to be at the table as policy makers make rules that will affect us.”
Romano said, “What this trade association represents is a nationwide body of business owners. You’re the only organization that I can think of that is a national body across owners who are dedicated to serving people traveling long haul.”
Following the announcement, the Colorado Energy Office told the Denver Post that partnerships like the one between NATSO and ChargePoint are critical to ensuring “we have the infrastructure needed to grow the (electric vehicle) market and address the impacts of transportation-related emissions. Travel plazas and fuel stops will help create a national charging network and serve as important charging locations as fleets across the U.S. incorporate electric mid- and heavy-duty vehicles.”
Currently there are 1.6 million electric vehicles on the road, and estimates predict there will be 20 million on the road by 2030. ChargePoint thinks it will be bigger.
Although core markets for trucks currently are limited and EV growth has been focused largely on passenger vehicles, Romano said trucks eventually will surpass cars due to the economics involved. Electric vehicles, for example, have lower operating costs, such as lower fuel, maintenance and repair costs, he said.
NATSO Chairman of the Board Delia Moon Meier, Senior Vice President, Iowa 80 Group, said that the travel plaza and truckstop industry is working hard to encourage policymakers to incentivize the next generation of fuel.
“We are embarking on a new collaboration so that our members can be active participants in bringing this new fuel to our customers,” Moon Meier said. “We’re focused on consumer-focused, market-oriented policies that will enable businesses that invest in EV charging to generate a healthy return on investment.”
Mullings said that as policymakers develop incentives and regulatory structures for electric charging, they should replicate the incentives that helped to bring other alternative fuels to market.
Fifteen years ago, federal policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard and the biodiesel tax credit, for example, created a strong incentive for fuel retailers to invest in the infrastructure necessary to bring cleaner burning biofuels to market. The private sector responded to those policy signals and incentives and made the investments necessary to bring new fuels to market.
NATSO thinks that the same approach will work with respect to EV charging infrastructure. Replicating that approach for the electric fuel market would result in a competitive marketplace with transparent prices and ultimately eliminate range anxiety.
“Nowhere on earth is there a more competitive industry than ours,” she said.
NATSO and ChargePoint agreed to three key policy principles in the Memorandum of Understanding. The organizations agree that public utilities should not be allowed to inappropriately use their monopolistic stature to crowd out private investment in EV charging infrastructure; businesses should be permitted to sell electricity to EV users, and that Federal lawmakers should maintain the longstanding federal prohibition on commercial activities at rest areas.
Photo credit: Lisa Burwell/NATSO
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