By Joseph Desimone
Every day brings news about the market growth of electric vehicles. But before the conversion to fully electric, self-driving vehicles comes to fruition, New Jersey must provide the infrastructure for this coming transportation revolution to thrive.
When discussing the need for electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure to support them, Greenspot, a leader in EV charging station development, installation and operations, commonly refers to the causality dilemma of what comes first: the EV or the EV charger? The U.S. is currently experiencing a surge in EV sales that doesn’t appear to be slowing any time soon, as well as state legislation further accelerating the push to adopt EVs, and the reality of the EV charging situation is far more daunting than what needs to or should come first.
A study released earlier this year by McKinsey & Co. stated that, even though the federal government is providing $7.5 billion to develop about 500,000 public chargers by 2030, the funding will not even get us halfway toward the forecasted need of 1.2 million public chargers. Including a forecasted need of 28 million private EV chargers by 2030, the country would need almost 20 times more infrastructure than it has now. Ultimately, in a few short years it appears that the country will experience a situation where the infrastructure does not support the demand. Imagine arguing with another driver at the charging station for time because you need to get home.
Government grant and utility rebate assistance has been pivotal in accelerating the deployment of charging infrastructure, but we simply are not doing enough. On top of the lack of resources to construct the required infrastructure, government and utility programs are extremely difficult to navigate, time-consuming and not guaranteed. As a result, the funding tends to be awarded to larger, established companies with longer lead times to construction. Some companies have a primary goal to monetize the sale of their hardware and software. Once the EV chargers are sold, the companies are no longer incentivized to keep them operational.
A study conducted earlier this year by the University of California Berkeley found that out of a sample size of almost 700 chargers in San Francisco, more than 25 percent of them were not functional. As a company makes no revenue from selling energy once they sell hardware, software, or a turnkey solution, they try to maintain revenue sources by charging the owner a fee to provide the network, software, maintenance, warranty and labor. Over the lifetime of a charger, the owner may need to pay much more than they originally had to cover all of these costs.
If an owner doesn’t continue to pay, they are disconnected from the network, leaving the charging station inoperable. One of Greenspot’s services is replacing EV chargers that no longer work, at no cost. Unlike hardware and software sellers, Greenspot is hardware and software agnostic, offering a solution that can adapt to the changing market over time. Greenspot is focused on the model where close to 99 percent of the EV chargers on their network are owned, maintained and operated by the company with a share of the income from energy sales going to the property owner on top of Greenspot covering the cost of electricity. With this model, Greenspot is directly responsible and incentivized to keep the equipment functional.
One of the fastest growing markets for Greenspot has been condo associations, who have a need to provide their residents with a flexible EV charging solution, but it’s difficult for the association to agree to take on additional expenses. Greenspot solves this challenge with a bespoke infrastructure system design, at no cost to the association, to supply power to any of the common or deeded parking spots. Rather than the entire association taking on the cost, the owner of the parking spot can opt in to get their own personal charger. Greenspot operates and maintains the whole system and stays onboard as the provider for the association to tap into when they need more chargers. New markets take a while to mature and align companies with the right incentive structure to continue to do business and the EV infrastructure industry is just getting started.
Joseph Desimone, is the Chief Operating Officer of Greenspot JC LLC, an EV infrastructure owner/operator based in Jersey City, New Jersey.
The etiquette and legalities of EV-charging
By Avi D. Kelin, Esq. of Genova Burns LLC
The nature of electric-vehicle charging gives rise to some thorny ethical and legal challenges that simply are not relevant for gas-fueled cars. Many states have enacted laws making it illegal for an internal-combustion vehicle to park in an EV charging spot. The practice — known as ICEing—is punishable by fines and tows under these anti-ICEing laws.
But is it illegal to unplug someone else’s EV that is charging in a public spot? Generally speaking, no it is not illegal. But this practice is a serious breach of EV etiquette. Some have proposed a standard notification on vehicles to indicate when a full charge is achieved, at which point the owner would feel comfortable with someone else using the charger. But as electric vehicles proliferate and these questions become more common, do not be surprised if state legislators in New Jersey and across the country consider whether to impose fines or other penalties for unplugging someone else’s vehicle.
Avi D. Kelin, Esq. is counsel with Genova Burns LLC, and chair of the firm’s Autonomous Vehicle Law Practice.