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CARB EV Charging Plan Splits Electric Vehicle Charging Association Members

A plan by CARB to spend $200 million from Electrify America on EV charging infrastructure has caused a bitter dispute among EV charging companies and suppliers.

The California Air Resources Board is scheduled to vote soon on a plan proposed by Electrify America to spend up to $200 million on EV charging infrastructure in the Golden State. Out of that $200 million pot, $115 million will go to build chargers in metropolitan areas, another $30 million will be used to install charging stations along major highways, and $12 million devoted to installing chargers in the parking garages for apartment building and and condo complexes. Electrify America is the organization created by Volkswagen to distribute the nearly $5 billion in fines it agreed to pay to settle the diesel cheating scandal with federal and state authorities.

EV Charging

Three years ago, charging equipment manufacturers formed a trade association called the Electric Vehicle Charging Association to promote EV charging infrastructure. Some of the members include ChargePoint., EVgo, SemaConnect, BTCPower and EV Connect. But some of them are unhappy with the way the money from Volkswagen via Electrify America will be distributed.

EVCA has written a letter to CARB opposing the proposed plan. It accuses Electrify America of poaching competitors’ best charging sites. It also opposes significant parts of the VW subsidiary’s spending plan, according to a report by E&E News. “Those opposing Electrify America accuse it of crowding out competitors; those in support of Electrify America say the opponents are prioritizing their own businesses over badly needed investments that would help everyone.”

But there’s more to the story. E&E News suggests “Those occupying the opposing sides of the issue also fall neatly along another axis: those who have lucrative contracts with Electrify America, and those who don’t. Charging equipment suppliers SemaConnect, BTC Power and EV Connect have all received large contracts to build out an earlier, $200 million phase of Electrify America’s network. Meanwhile, one of Electrify America’s top competitors for charging customers, ChargePoint, won no such contracts. Another EVCA member, EVgo, worked early on with Electrify America but has now become a rival in a race to build high-powered fast chargers.

Josh Cohen, director of policy and utility programs for SemaConnect, said in a recent letter, “SemaConnect and EVCA are diametrically opposed on the fundamental role that Electrify America, electric utilities and similar entities need to fill within the EV industry. SemaConnect strongly supports their role; EVCA strongly opposes it. This is a foundational issue not just for our company, but for our country.” SemaConnect has now withdrawn as a member of EVCA.

Human beings are so predictable, aren’t they? Of course we on the outside believe creating more EV charging infrastructure is a laudable goal, especially if those evil trolls at Volkswagen are paying for it. On the other hand, people can always be trusted to grab for as much money as they can. It’s basic human nature and one of the primary reasons the world is on the verge of an environmental meltdown.

A decision by CARB is expected soon. Will lawsuits from companies who feel they were treated unfairly follow? Almost as surely as night follows day. Where there are such large sums of money involved, no stone will be left unturned to grab as big a piece of it as possible.

Hat tip to Loren McDonald for bringing this story to my attention. Thanks, brother. 

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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