Electricity providers have played a major role in introducing charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. EV industry observers disagree on this – some see this as a natural and inevitable development, while others fear that large utilities could use their quasi-monopoly power to displace independent retailers.
Be that as it may, utilities are sure to continue to play an important role in the burgeoning charging industry, and as the U.S. government makes heavy investments in charging infrastructure, utilities are banding together to focus their influence.
The Edison Electric Institute, a utility trading group, recently announced the formation of the National Electric Highway Coalition, made up of 50 EEI members and the Tennessee Valley Authority. The organization is “a collaboration between electrical companies committed to providing fast charging stations for electric vehicles that will enable the public to drive electric vehicles with confidence along major US travel corridors by the end of 2023”.
“By merging and expanding existing efforts to build fast charging infrastructure along key travel corridors, we are building a fundamental EV charging network that will help attract more customers to buy an EV,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn.
Over: The service area of ââthe National Electric Highway Coalition is shown in purple on the map (Source: EEI)
Suppliers definitely have an interest in expanding the charging infrastructure, both as a direct source of income and as an energy store. So far, the EEI member companies have invested a total of 3 billion US dollars in various electric mobility projects.
EEI’s director of electric transportation, Kellen Schefter, said the roles of utilities in the coalition could take several forms. A constructive strategy would be to focus on the expansion of high-voltage connections at existing or new charging locations along motorway routes, regardless of whether the charging devices are operated by private charging networks or directly by energy providers. âEverything will really be up there,â said Schefter.
It’s not yet exactly clear how the $ 7.5 billion allocated to charging networks in the federal infrastructure bill of $ 1.2 trillion will be distributed (assuming they survive the political chaos in Washington), however Schefter assumes that a large part of it will go through state governments. Under the current plan, $ 5 billion will be channeled through state governments and $ 2.5 billion will fund the charging and fuel infrastructure program, which will support charging stations and hydrogen, propane and natural gas infrastructure.
Above: Learn more about the National Electric Highway Coalition’s efforts to build fast loading ports along major highways (YouTube: KRQE)
As reported by E&E News, most supply plans for charging infrastructure projects have to be approved by the state supply commissions. According to a recent EEI survey, 52 electricity companies in 31 states and the District of Columbia have received government approvals to launch various types of electric transportation programs with a total budget of nearly $ 3 billion. Most of these, however, are pilot projects – more than 80 percent of that dollar amount goes to large programs in California, New York, and New Jersey.
This article originally appeared in Charged. Author: Charles Morris. Sources: Edison Electric Institute, E&E News