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Cars Coca-Cola NRG workplace EV charging CA AB32

Published on December 3rd, 2014 | by Tina Casey

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Big Bubbly Vs. Big Oil In Workplace EV Charging Death Match

December 3rd, 2014 by  


We were  just saying that the new industry-sponsored “grassroots” campaign against California’s clean energy law is doomed to fail, when along comes none other than the Coca-Cola Company to prove our point. And, they one-upped us, too. The world’s leading purveyor of all things sweet and bubbly has just announced a new partnership with NRG Energy Inc. to provide workplace EV charging at its campuses in Sacramento, Coachella, Downey, Sylmar, Los Angeles, and San Leandro.

Coca-Cola NRG workplace EV charging CA AB32

Coca-Cola bottle cap (cropped) by Omer Wazir, cc license via flickr.com.

Workplace EV Charging Vs. Gasmobiles

When we took a look at the petroleum industry’s new campaign against California’s AB 32 clean energy regulations yesterday, we concluded that a coordinated effort by several slick, well-funded “grassroots” organizations could meet with some success over the short run, but it is eventually doomed to fail.

However, our list of fail-worthy obstacles for the campaign (dubbed “Energy Proud,” for those of you keeping score at home) failed to mention workplace charging. Shame on us!

Aside from being able to charge up an EV at home and other ad hoc destinations, being able to fuel up your car where you work is a fabulous convenience that gasmobiles can’t touch in any meaningful way.

That convenience factor is going to be all the more important moving forward as the retail gasoline sector consolidates into fewer locations, even as the availability of EV charging stations skyrockets.

 

We’re also thinking that with emerging vehicle-to-grid, microgrid, and energy storage technologies, employees can potentially earn some bucks on the side by selling excess energy in their EV battery back to their workplace.

Big Bubbly Vs. Big Oil

On a broader scale, the new partnership between Coca-Cola and NRG demonstrates how much the playing field has changed in just a few years when it comes to the energy lobby.

Just a few years ago, “big oil” was facing down various environmental organizations. Now they’re looking at all of those organizations, plus some new ones, plus a growing phalanx of deep-pocketed, powerful interests that are interested in an EV future.

NRG is a Fortune 250 diversified energy company that is laying a huge stake on the transition to emerging clean technologies. Under its eVgo umbrella for its EV charging station business, the company is also partnered with the US Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge and a laundry list of corporate heavy hitters including GM, GE, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Via, Walgreens, TXU Energy, Hertz, and enterprise.

Now throw in Coca-Cola, and you’ve got trouble on your hands. Aside from its enormous reach and its numerous sustainability initiatives (the company also helped to launch the WorkPlace Charging Challenge, for one thing), Coca-Cola has been touting its “perfect” score from The Human Rights Campaign’s workplace initiative. Workplace charging fits right in.

Coca-Cola And Workplace Charging

The new partnership enlists Coca-Cola in eVgo’s Ready for Electric Vehicle (REV) program, which NRG describes thusly:

The REV program provides qualified workplaces with turn-key EV charging solutions, including charger operation, maintenance and driver support 24 hours a day. The Level 2 chargers, dedicated for the use of individuals working at the location, are compatible with all EVs.

Coca-Cola employees who opt in to the new workplace charging stations also have the option to use eVgo’s fast charge network, which currently consists of more than 100 locations in California alone.

Let’s also note that Coca-Cola is not shy about underscoring the significance of workplace EV charging. It’s not simply a convenience for employees. According to the company’s Director of Sustainability and Environmental Affairs, it’s this:

Drivers across the state are choosing to drive electric and our partnership with NRG eVgo facilitates our employees joining this transportation revolution.

Revolution! Now that’s a powerful word. Actually, Coca-Cola has had this workplace EV charging revolution in the works on the down low for a few years now.

Coca-Cola has been quietly pilot-testing an employee EV program at its Atlanta location, and in 2012 it partnered with California’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative to help ramp up the transition to an EV market in that state.

So, with a little help from Coca-Cola and NRG, California has already sped past its goal of selling 100,000 plug-in EVs (the goal was established in 2010). Keep in mind that the California economy is larger than almost every other country on the planet, too.

As for workplace EV charging nationwide, check out this interactive map to see how fast it has grown in just a couple of years. Aside from NRG, the Workplace Charging Challenge is also supported by a mind-boggling assortment of corporate heavyweights from 3M, Bloomberg, Dell, and Duke Energy to Tesla (no, really?), Verizon, and Volkswagen.

That’s why we’re thinking Energy Proud might want to get while the going is good.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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