Jun 23, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Shell and GM unveil partnership on Texas power and car-charging

Illustration of a Texas-shaped power outlet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

General Motors and a Shell-owned power company will unveil a partnership on Wednesday aimed at providing renewable electricity to Texas customers and free overnight charging to state residents who own GM electric cars.

Why it matters: It’s a new way for two corporate giants to expand their operations in a way that lowers emissions at the customer and supplier level.

The big picture: In the process, the two companies — one a giant fossil fuel producer, the other a manufacturer of oil-hungry products — can make progress toward their corporate emissions goals.

  • GM, for example, has set a target of being carbon neutral in its global products and operations by 2040, while Shell is aiming for a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050.
  • GM's goal requires the company to make significant cuts in the emissions from the vehicles it sells (known as Scope 3 emissions).
  • Shell’s target includes not only the energy consumed through its own operations, but the emissions from the fuels it sells to its customers.

Driving the news: The renewable energy plans are rolling out this month. They will offer customers fixed electricity rates sourced from wind, solar and other renewable sources, through Shell Energy North America's subsidiary MP2 Energy, LLC.

  • The EV charging options will be added in late July, according to a GM spokesperson.

How it works: For an eligible consumer to access the renewable energy plans, they’d be directed to a specific website to choose a plan that best suits them, said Glenn Wright, Shell VP of renewables and energy solutions.

  • "Once launched, the EV plans are structured to provide free overnight renewable-energy charging to assist with managing the cost of charging their vehicle," Wright said.
  • Such a charging window allows customers to draw energy from the grid at non-peak hours, when electricity costs tend to be lower.
  • In addition to GM’s customers, the energy program will also be extended to GM's suppliers so they can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

What they're saying: Rob Threlkeld, GM’s global manager of sustainable energy, said the new program is an outgrowth of the company’s focus on deploying renewables across its manufacturing facilities.

  • He sees the overnight charging component as a way to put customers in charge of controlling their electricity costs as EVs become more common.
  • “And so that's kind of down the path, as we think about an all-electric future, is starting to get our customers engaged in understanding electricity, more or less, and then ultimately how they can potentially support them as they look for low-cost solutions,” he said.

What’s next: Both companies aim to expand the renewables effort beyond Texas and into other U.S. markets in the future.

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