NATSO on Sept. 20 hosted a panel discussion on the business case for EV charging at retail.
If you weren’t able to join us, you haven’t missed out. The recorded webinar is now available for viewing.
Panelists David Fialkov, NATSO Executive Vice President of Government Affairs; Eva Rigamonti, Associate General Counsel and Executive Director of Public Policy at RaceTrac; Tim Langenkamp, Vice President and General Counsel for Pilot Co.’s energy division; LeRoy Fitzgerald, Commercial Director with FreeWire Technologies; and Anne Smart, Vice President of Public Policy for ChargePoint discussed the challenges and opportunities to installing electric vehicle charging stations at retail. NATSO’s Senior Policy Advisor Jessi Frend moderated the panel.
- With 150,000 established fueling locations spanning the nation, existing fuel retailers can replicate today’s fueling experience for drivers of electric vehicles while ensuring that those drivers will not suffer from range anxiety.
- Fuel retailers need a viable pathway to profitability for electric vehicle charging as transportation fuel to gain any meaningful market share;
- Public policy should support and incentivize private investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure;
- Investor-owned utilities should not increase the electricity rates of all their customers – regardless of income – to underwrite investments in EV charging equipment. This unfair funding method, combined with federal funds that allow double-dipping of funding for the same infrastructure and the punitive demand charges that utilities impose on private sector operators of EV charging statements, make it impossible for the private sector to successfully invest in charging technology.
- The retail fuels market is the most transparent and competitive commodities market in the United States. Consumers can easily see fuel prices and decide where to refuel based on the posted price without having to leave their vehicles. This leads to lower prices for customers. EV drivers should have access to the same competitive, stable and convenient prices that drivers of gas-powered vehicles have enjoyed for decades. The rate charged must be consistent and predictable throughout the country in order for EV charging stations to deliver rates that are competitive with conventional fuels.
David Fialkov, NATSO Executive Vice President of Government Affairs: “The travel center industry is uniquely positioned to seamlessly transition from liquid fuel to EVs. The real estate that the travel center currently has is clearly where customers want to go. ...The competitive, transparent commodities market is running headstrong into a regulated utility market ... that rationale for a regulated, state-sanctioned monopoly does not apply to the distribution and sale of transportation energy for moving vehicles. If anything, it’s an impediment to getting [companies] to invest much more aggressively in the [EV] technology. We need to reform macro market dynamics that are functioning as impediments right now.”
Eva Rigamonti, Associate General Counsel and Executive Director of Public Policy at RaceTrac: “Our business model is designed to meet the needs of our customers. We compete on razor thin margins. We’re always changing, we’re always evolving, we’re always adapting. Looking into the electric vehicle space and the future of transportation refueling, because we’re fuel agnostic we say, ‘what does the consumer want’ and ‘what does the consumer need?’ They want convenience. They want fast charging. They want it conveniently located and they want the same amenities that drivers of a combustion engine have. But there are a number of obstacles that we’re looking to overcome.”
Tim Langenkamp, Vice President and General Counsel for Pilot Co.’s energy division: “We are prepared to invest in any fueling technology that our guests want. We will support the future of transportation in this country. We are in an evaluative mode right now. We are looking at where our customers exist now who have EVs and where we expect them to be and doing this in an uncertain environment. It’s something we are studying currently, and we will roll something out as soon as we can make sense of the consumer’s needs and the business case.”
LeRoy Fitzgerald, Commercial Director with FreeWire Technologies: “The retail space is a fantastic area for EV growth and adoption. … What we’ve always been concerned with is how do you make this economically feasible. ... If you can’t make money on it, why are you willing to do it, especially running on very tight margins.”
Anne Smart, Vice President of Public Policy for ChargePoint: “Retailers are great partners, you are already in the best locations, right next to a highway exit particularly in rural areas where we may not have a lot of other options and providing the expertise that retailers already have with fueling and pairing that with this new type of fueling we found to be really successful.”
Eva Rigamonti: “The rate structure issue is a huge impediment to private investment. The desire to make a profit and to succeed in the marketplace has allowed us to create products and great offers to consumers. Our margins are very thin, so we’re competing to the benefit of consumers to drive value at lower cost.” [Congress] needs to send an unambiguous policy signal that they are prioritizing and they want to support private investment in this space. There are 150,000 refueling locations across the country today. No one has liquid-fuel range anxiety.”
Anne Smart: “We have to fix all the policy issues and regulatory issues that make it more difficult to install chargers. We’re evaluating utility programs to make sure that they are helpful versus being anti-competitive on the opportunities for retailers to provide charging themselves to drivers, working on demand charges and electricity rates so that if you are looking to operate a charging station it is economically possible to do so, and we’re going to all 50 states … to enable the ability to resell electricity without being regulated as if you are a utility.”
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