EMA Urges Federal Highway Administration to Protect Small Business Marketers
Last fall, Congress approved, and the President signed into law, a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). The IIJA provides $7.5 billion in funding for states to deploy an Electric Vehicle Formula Program (EV Charging Program) with a $2.5 billion set aside for a competitive grant program to build out EV charging, hydrogen, natural gas and propane infrastructure along alternative fuel corridors.
The White House and relevant agencies are now turning to implementation of IIJA. Last Friday, EMA submitted comments after seeking input from EMA’s Motor Fuels Committee and Alternative Energy Task Force regarding the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) EV infrastructure related questions, specifically on how the programs should be administered, including criteria for locating EV infrastructure projects.
EMA urged FHWA to establish safeguards to ensure small business marketers can access vital federal funds to advance alternative energy goals. Specifically, EMA urged FHWA to ensure that 50 percent of the grant program funding be dedicated to small, independent fuel marketing businesses with less than 500 employees who can diversify and ensure consumers pay a competitive price for EV charging. EMA stressed to FHWA that it makes more sense to locate new EV charging equipment at existing off-highway fuel retailer sites. These sites are ubiquitous, familiar to consumers and conveniently located at highway entrances and exits nationwide. New EV charging sites are likely to be located further from highway exits and entrance ramps than consumers are ordinarily willing to travel. The convenience of an EV charging station, already situated at highway entrance and exit ramps, along with the availability of restrooms, food, and drink, will prove far more desirable to travelers than EV charging stations located further down the road from the exit, without facilities or refreshments.
Finally, EMA reiterated its concerns that the National Electric Vehicle Formula Program and the Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grant Program could permit electric utilities to double dip – meaning they could charge their rate paying consumers to pay to expand EV infrastructure, while also taking grant money to subsidize the same projects. An electric utility monopoly using ratepayers to install EV infrastructure hurts consumers by effectively blocking out competition. Competition will ensure consumers pay a competitive price for EV charging and are ultimately serviced by the companies that provide the best customer experience. In other words, utilities and non-utilities, including private businesses, should be on a level playing field when it comes to building out EV charging infrastructure.