Aug 11, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: Strange bedfellows come together on EV charging

Illustration of lightning bolt as Bat Signal
Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

A new initiative from a diverse array of groups from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to the Edison Electric Institute and major automaker trade organizations is launching Wednesday.

What to watch: Its goal is to mobilize private capital and forge public-private partnerships to rapidly accelerate the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations and related infrastructure nationwide.

Why it matters: The group, known as the National EV Charging Initiative, counts among its members electrical workers who will help supply and install the infrastructure to power EVs as well as advocates who are focused on addressing racial, economic and environmental inequities.

Between the lines: The 24 signatories of the MOU include some strange bedfellows, including unions, electrical utilities and environmental groups that have sparred in the past over other issues.

  • They include the Alliance for Transportation Electrification, which counts GM, Ford and Honda among its members.
  • Also part of the new push is the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, which has on its membership roster BMW, Ford, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota, and the nonprofit group Veloz, which brings in PG&E, Uber and Lyft.
  • There's also The Coalition for Green Capital, Ceres, CALSTART, the California Electric Transportation Coalition, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Green Latinos, among other signatories.

How it works: The MOU acknowledges "the need for collaboration between policymakers at all levels of government, fleet owners, organized labor, electric utilities, and financiers in order to build out EV charging infrastructure."

  • According to Colleen Quinn, the founder and partner of eMobility Advisors, a public affairs firm that is spearheading the initiative on behalf of NRDC, the U.S. needs to mobilize both public and private funding to get to President Biden's goal of having 50% of vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2030 be electric vehicles.
  • The bipartisan infrastructure plan that passed the Senate on Tuesday includes $7.5 billion to fund the construction of EV charging stations.

What they're saying: "We're bringing the entire utility industry together, so you've got the manufacturing of the vehicles, you've also got, you know, basically the new, the new fueling providers, which is in the utility industry," Quinn told Axios.

Of note: The initiative has an environmental justice component, with member groups dedicated to bringing EV charging to areas that are more affected by pollution and to people who "spend a disproportionate share of their income on vehicle fuel and maintenance."

Yes, but: It's unclear how much money NRDC and other member groups will direct toward this effort to lobby federal and state governments, which will help determine whether this is successful.

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