NATSO and a diverse coalition of representing hundreds of thousands of small businesses as well as American cities and municipalities and blind entrepreneurs urged Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to oppose provisions of the INVEST in America Act that undermine the longstanding prohibition on commercializing rest areas.
NATSO, SIGMA: America’s Leading Fuel Marketers and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) also sent a separate letter urging Committee Members to ensure that public policy lays the foundation for a competitive market for electric vehicle charging.
Parts of the House surface transportation reauthorization advance this goal but other provisions risk undermining the potential for private sector investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The House T&I Committee is set to markup its five-year, $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization June 9 beginning at 10 a.m. EST. To watch the hearing Live click here.
The INVEST in America Act provides $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety, including $4 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
INVEST would establish a “Clean Corridors” program to provide funds for the acquisitions and installation of electric vehicle charging and hydrogen infrastructure. Eligible entities would be required to consider the proximity of existing off-highway travel centers, fuel retailers, and small businesses to electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The measure also includes provisions that would carve out an exception for electric vehicle charging to the longstanding federal law prohibiting the sale of fuel, food and other services at rest areas.
In its June 8 letter, the coalition, which includes fuel retailers, restaurants, blind entrepreneurs, convenience stores as well as city and local governments, urged lawmakers to oppose Sections 1118 and 1211 of the INVEST in America Act that would allow electric vehicle charging on the Interstate right-of-way and at Interstate rest areas.
The associations support investment in a full range of fueling options for consumers including electricity as well as other alternatives to petroleum-based fuels but the best way to achieve this is to use tax, funding and other policies to incentivize private, off-highway retailers to invest in these technologies.
“The best way to limit ‘range anxiety’ for EV users is to incentivize the thousands of travel centers, gas stations, convenience stores, restaurants, and hotels located in close proximity to an Interstate to offer EV charging services,” the coalition wrote. “These businesses are ready and willing to make those investments. If those services were made available at rest areas on the Interstate right-of-way, however, it would discourage the private sector from investing in EV charging infrastructure and ultimately hinder growth in these alternative fuels. Maintaining the ban on commercialization, and developing incentive programs within that regulatory structure, will foster the proliferation of EV charging in the long-term.”
Joining NATSO in signing the letter were SIGMA, the Energy Marketers of America (EMA), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), National Federation of the Blind (NFB), National League of Cities (NLC), National Restaurant Association (NRA), and the National Retail Federation (NRF).
The organizations said they support efforts like the one led by Representative Rick Larsen (D-WA) to amend the language and protect against the negative impacts the current language in the INVEST in America Act could produce.
With regard to the Clean Corridors program, NATSO, SIGMA and NACs said that they appreciated that the bill takes into the need for public-private partnerships to advance the goal of increased charging infrastructure and the proximity of retail fueling stations to proposed projects, grant decisions can help ensure that federal dollars leverage private investments.
The provisions do not go far enough, however, to ensure that it does not discourage private sector development of EV charging infrastructure.
Specifically, the groups said that any legislation funding electric vehicle charging infrastructure must protect against double-dipping of government funds by electric utilities. Many utilities have used, or plan to use, funds extracted from all of their electricity customers to underwrite the cost of EV chargers.
“Giving federal dollars to pay for the same utility-owned and operated chargers that are already underwritten by consumers cannot be justified,” the groups wrote. “The legislation should include language that requires the disclosure of this funding model and a prioritization that federal funds go to projects putting capital at risk. Doing so would help prevent this double-dipping of ratepayer and taxpayer and avoid pushing away private investment and wasting federal dollars.”
The industry is making significant commitments to EV charging infrastructure. NATSO and ChargePoint recently announced significant progress in the first year of the National Highway Charging Collaborative, an initiative that will leverage $1 billion in public and private capital to deploy charging at more than 4,000 travel plazas and fuel stops serving highway travelers and rural communities nationwide by 2030.
The Collaborative continues to aggressively scale its efforts and FHWA also highlights the National Highway Charging Collaborative as part of its Alternative Fuel Corridors Best Practices.
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