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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 the state of electric vehicles during the COVID-19 pandemic quoting AEE's Matt Stanberry and AEE members HET and EVgo. Read excerpts below and the entire E&E News piece here. 

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...

One big consequence of America being mostly sheltered in place is that charging stations, just like gas stations, have seen their customers vanish. EVgo, one of the country's largest charging networks, has seen the amount of time that customers are using its stations drop by more than half, according to Jonathan Levy, the company's vice president of business development. And Electrify America, the Volkswagen AG subsidiary that runs the nation's largest network of public chargers, reported a 60% nosedive in utilization rates. That is having a direct impact on both companies' bottom lines, as much of their revenue is based on usage.

EVgo hasn't yet needed to furlough or lay off any of its 115-person staff. As for the long-term outlook, "a lot of it depends on how long this will last," Levy said. The economic impact of this drop is blunted because EVgo and Electrify America are exceptions; most of the EV charging world doesn't peg its fortunes to the amount of electric fuel sold. Charging stations are often located in the parking lots of offices, restaurants, big-box stores and hotels. Drops in usage matter little to these site hosts because the charger is just an amenity to support the principal business. The larger concern for the EV charging ecosystem is the overall economic climate...

Conversations with people around the EV charging ecosystem — including private companies, utilities, lobbyists and analysts — reveal a state of guarded optimism. They believe the nation's small but growing electric fueling network can continue to thrive and help bend the curve that some have temporarily forgotten about: the one toward lower carbon emissions to prevent the ravages of climate change.

"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. 

Topics: AEE In The News