IPI To Lead Industry in Promoting Charging Stations


IPI To Lead Industry in Promoting Charging Stations

I have no problem if the IPI sees installing charging stations in garages across the fruited plain as something they wish to invest time and treasure.  Read about it here. I have reviewed the news releases from the IPI and the Department of Energy plus Casey’s post, and I have seen nothing that relates as to who is to pay for the charging stations.

This is an activity that is proposed to entice folks to buy EVs (pure electric vehicles.)  These are cars that have no gasoline motor, but run solely on batteries and need charging every (pick a number) 40, 50, 75, or so miles.  The idea is that if businesses install charging stations at work, folks will get over their ‘range anxiety’ and run out in droves and buy a Nissan Leaf, or a Telsa or one of a number of other non hybrids at a cost of somewhere between $40,000 and $200,000.  Fair enough.

So back to my question.  Who is supposed to pay for the charging stations?  When we began driving gasoline powered vehicles, the gasoline companies paid for the stations. Why is it the responsibility of my company, or my university, or my garage owner to pay for the charging stations?  Certainly why is it the responsibility of the government to pay for the stations.

It seems fairly obvious that the private sector doesn’t believe that these vehicles warrant much investment.  Virtually all of them have huge government subsidies. The question one might ask is why?

I’m all for those who wish to purchase a pure electric vehicle. Hey knock yourself out. But shouldn’t you also pay for the way to get electricity to you.  The reason that gasoline costs what it does is because it is expensive to find, extract, refine, and deliver to the station so you can get it into your car.  All that cost is covered by your price at the pump.

Now with electric vehicles, its not just the cost of the charging station, its also the cost of upgraded mains services, and if enough of these are installed and sucking up power, the cost of upgraded infrastructure to provide the power. It doesn’t just come from thin air.

The electricity must be generated (usually from coal or natural gas) and then transmitted over power lines (not so pretty) to distribution stations, and then to the charging stations. Has anyone asked if there are 10,000 EVs charging at any one time in say New York City if the cables under the street can handle the load?

So, in the end, we will have to upgrade our electrical power grid. Fair enough. We probably need to do so anyway.  But who is to pay the bill?

It seems to me that before we jump headlong into a program to install an infrastructure prior to the need existing, (We are a long ways to having a large number of electric vehicles on the road except in a few choice markets (I live in one of them) we need to consider the entire picture, the ultimate costs, and who should pay for it.

Just saying


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. John,

    Thanks for keeping real… I have written this here before, until my customers are asking for charging stations (in a quantity that justifies the expense) I will not install them. I find it interesting that the IPI, in their press release, says “parking industry” joins with Obama to increase charging stations. I’m fairly sure that I can say I’m not the only one in the parking industry who IPI doesn’t speak for – especially on this issue.

    Louis Farnsworth
    Washington, DC

  2. Great article, we are struggling with the same issues at our institution. In our case, the local government is cost sharing the cost of installation with us. In our loacl area, the average commute is far less than the range of these vehicles. Makes one wonder why we are installing these stations when you can simply plug in why you sleep in your bed at home. Should we start building gas stations on campus as well?

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