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E&E News: The Future was Supposed to be Electric. Is it Still?

Posted by David Ferris and David Iaconangelo on Apr 16, 2020

E&E News covered COVID-19's effect on the electric vehicle and charging industry quoting AEE's Matt Stanberry and AEE members EVgo and Highland Electric. Read excerpts below and the entire E&E News piece here (sub. req.). 

Todd Ritter sounds confident about his charging company's ability to weather the novel coronavirus downturn. But when pressed, he begins to fret. His firm, EV Structure, repairs, installs and operates electric vehicle charging stations from Hawaii to the Carolinas. His crews have plowed ahead through the pandemic. "I'm out there turning screws and busting knuckles. I'm not thinking about it," Ritter said. But he admits those projects are the fruits of old sales...

As the crisis upends much of the energy world, forcing mass furloughs from the oil fields of Oklahoma to the solar rooftops of Virginia, it has so far left one sector — EV charging — mostly unscathed by comparison. EV infrastructure is sheltered against disruptions by its small size and large patrons. The ranks of companies that live or die by it are few. The business of charging EVs is insulated by enormous balance sheets — of the governments that still mostly fund it and of the economic titans like automakers, power utilities and electrical equipment conglomerates that are building it.

EV infrastructure's lucky status of today also means its long-term future is out of its hands and deeply uncertain. Will EVs, and the charging network to fuel them, wither as automakers and governments grapple with a deep recession? Or is this just the crisis that EVs need to succeed? Conversations with people around the EV charging ecosystem — including private companies, utilities, lobbyists and analysts — reveal a state of guarded optimism...

"This space is growing, has been growing faster than the rest of the economy for some time," said Matt Stanberry, a managing director of Advanced Energy Economy, a group that advocates on behalf of clean energy. "It's not as if COVID changes the fundamentals of all that." But there's no doubt that the novel coronavirus crisis has reverberated wide, idling charging stations, delaying projects and throwing all sorts of plans into doubt...

Read the entire E&E News piece here (sub. req.). 

Topics: AEE In The News