EV Charging Industry Advocates for Eased Regulations

A roundtable discussion related to what’s needed for expanded EV deployment took a look at concerns around the difficulties of building out a half-million new charging locations in the near future.

Charging Station EV
Lessons already learned from the development of electric vehicle charging stations and similar infrastructure should be put to use as the nation prepares for an expanded adoption of EVs, experts say.

“Take the best-practice lessons from the whole of what we’ve done so far, and enable others across the country to learn from our earlier stage mistakes, and make it easier for everybody,” said Cathy Zoi, CEO of EVgo, one of the largest networks of public charging infrastructure.

Zoi was speaking Tuesday during a roundtable discussion on the “urgency and opportunity in electrifying the U.S. transportation sector” organized by the Zero Emission Transportation Association, as part of U.S. Climate Action Week.

The discussion was amplified by the White House’s massive infrastructure proposal, which places heavy emphasis on reimagining transportation in a shift away from fossil fuels and toward a cleaner, electric future.

“We need to act with a sense of urgency, and a sense of purpose,” remarked David Turk, deputy secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy, speaking on the panel.

Turk said the president’s $2 trillion infrastructure and jobs plan, as it is routinely referred, is set to strike “robust collaboration and partnership across the federal government, across the agencies of the federal government … with the full range of actors that are needed to be successful if we’re going to achieve the real potential of zero-emission vehicles, going forward.”

Electric vehicle development and adoption is ready to move past the technologically curious and into the hands of everyday consumers, along with government and commercial fleets, say observers.

Tucked inside President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal is $174 billion for EV incentives and a move to build out 500,000 chargers. This is why the recharging infrastructure needs to be well thought out and extra efforts should be made to ease the development of public charging ports, said Choi, who advocated for “an ecosystem of charging solutions” ranging from home charging to charging ports in parks, workplaces, schools and other areas. This should also include a range of fast and more conventional charging, as well as charging availability in rural areas, she added.

“What we want to do is deploy the right charger technology for the right use case,” said Choi.

Aside from deploying the right charger for the right use and user, the EV industry and public sector should work together toward making the process of developing a widescale charging infrastructure easier, said Choi, advocating for a “charger ecosystem flywheel.”

“One of the things that helps create the flywheel is not just the technology itself,” she reflected. “It’s not just the cables in the ground. But it’s, what’s the process? And how do we streamline that process? It shouldn’t have to take a year to deploy a fast-charging station.”

Today, it takes EVgo nine to 12 months to deploy an EV charging station. The timeline is drawn out generally due to the negotiations needed among all of the stakeholders, as well as the regulatory process.

It will take more public charging opportunities to move consumers toward a place where they feel comfortable buying an electric car, said Turk.

Keep in mind the “’consumer psyche,’ and ... have that comfort level increase so that we can reach those tipping points,” Turk told the roundtable.

“If you get that comfort level, that the charging infrastructure is there, [consumers] see it more in their daily lives, they internalize that and they’re comfort level increases,” said Turk. “So I think we need to be thinking about that psyche kind of piece to it as well.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.