ALEXANDRIA, Va., June 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- NATSO, representing the nation's truckstops and travel plazas, the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) urged Members of Congress to oppose the Moving Forward Act, a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill, ahead of today's House vote. The legislation includes a focus on climate change policies but includes provisions that will discourage private businesses from investing in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and stifle the market's transition to electric vehicles.
NATSO, NACS and SIGMA expressed concern with two provisions that will curtail private sector investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Specifically, the groups oppose a provision that would carve out an exception for electric vehicle charging to the longstanding federal law prohibiting the sale of fuel, food and other services at rest areas. The federal ban on commercial activities at Interstate rest areas has incentivized businesses to invest in fuel stations just off of America's highways since the inception of the Interstate Highway System. Private sector development of this national fueling network has ensured that drivers of gasoline-powered cars do not suffer from range anxiety. A similar approach would drive demand for electric vehicles.
A second provision would allow investor-owned utilities to receive federal grants even if they have already raised rates on all of their customers to underwrite electric vehicle charging infrastructure investments. Fuel retailers will not invest in a technology where they have to pay for their own infrastructure and recover those costs while utilities can 'double dip' and have all of their investments covered by unwilling underwriters.
The three organizations said the Moving Forward Act reflects a short-sighted desire to build charging infrastructure as rapidly as possible without regard for the long-term implications for EV charging availability and undermines the legislation's environmental objectives. "It will lead to a small number of chargers and no additional investment off the highway," the groups said. "This will mean fewer options for the consumer and less competition in pricing."
NATSO, NACS and SIGMA think that private sector involvement in the installation of electric vehicle charging stations is key to meeting the fueling needs of the motoring public. Many of the associations' members are working to invest in that infrastructure. Collectively they represent hundreds of thousands of fuel retailers that sell approximately 90 percent of motor fuel sold at retail in the United States.
The trade groups said infrastructure spending is a top priority and they remain eager to work with Congress to explore policies that encourage existing off-highway businesses to expand the full range of transportation energy offerings for consumers, including electric vehicle charging. In its current form, however, the Moving Forward Act will restrict those offerings.
The groups said that the bipartisan highway reauthorization bill passed last summer by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which was supported by NATSO, creates a regulatory framework that is far more compatible with increasing investment in EV charging infrastructure than the House bill. The Senate EPW bill included grants for EV charging infrastructure along highway corridors but does not commercialize rest areas or encourage utilities to double-dip.
NATSO announced earlier this year that it formed the National Highway Charging Collaborative with North America's largest electric vehicle charging vendor, ChargePoint, to add electric vehicle charging to more than 4,000 travel plazas in the next decade. The Moving Forward Act threatens that goal.
The letter to Members of Congress can be read here.
About NATSO, NACS, and SIGMA
NATSO is the trade association of America's travel plaza and truckstop industry. Founded in 1960, NATSO represents the industry on legislative and regulatory matters; serves as the official source of information on the diverse travel plaza and truckstop industry; provides education to its members; conducts an annual convention and trade show; and supports efforts to generally improve the business climate in which its members operate. Contact: Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman, Vice President, Public Affairs. 703-739-8578
NACS advances the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 153,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 165 million customers daily—half of the U.S. population—and has sales that are 10.8% of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales. NACS has 1,900 retailer and 1,800 supplier members from more than 50 countries.
SIGMA represents a diverse membership of approximately 260 independent chain retailers and marketers of motor fuel. While 67 percent are involved in gasoline retailing, 83 percent are involved in wholesaling, 56 percent transport product, 39 percent have bulk plant operations, and 20 percent operate terminals. Member retail outlets come in many forms including truckstops, traditional "gas stations," convenience stores with gas pumps, cardlocks, and unattended public fueling locations.
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SOURCE NATSO, Inc.