When embarking on a road trip, it isn’t unusual for a driver to drift into a monotonous state fueled by a favorite podcast or audiobook only to be brought back when the low fuel indicator light ticks on. The ensuing onset of panic is often mitigated by a quick google maps search revealing four or five gas stations in a 20-mile radius. However, if that same driver were to be at the helm of an electric vehicle, chances are much slimmer that they would have more than one charger if any at their disposal. The reason for this discrepancy goes far beyond consumer EV adoption. The reality of why chargers can be hard to find may surprise you.
On the surface, installing an EV charger may seem like a no-brainer for gas stations and retail stores across the country. Charging an electric vehicle takes longer than pumping gas leading many EV owners to get out of their cars and visit the nearest retail center. However, the reality for businesses looking to install EV charging stations outside of their stores is that it may not be profitable. The reason for this is the high demand fees charged utility providers when a business sucks in a significant amount of power.
According to a CNN Business interview with Jigar Shah, Head of Energy Services at Electrify America, operating a four-vehicle charging station could cost a business upwards of $250,000 a year in demand fees. Moreover, research from RMI found that roughly 90 percent of the charges involved with operating an EV charger can be traced back to these demand fees.
An article from CNN Business points out that retailers can find ways around these hefty demand charges by harnessing tools such as on-site battery storage units, solar generation, and energy management strategies. However, the onus should be on states, not businesses to reduce barriers to EV charger adoption.
In regards to the issue, Ryan McKinnon, a spokesman for the Charge Ahead Partnership said in an interview with CNN: “No private business is going to risk thousands of dollars of buying, installing, maintaining and operating EV charging stations if there’s the risk or reality of Georgia Power or Xcel or Dominion [Power] doing the exact same thing down the street for half the price.”
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