Fuel retailers push for consistent EV charging experience across states under NEVI grant program

Fuel retailers urge FHWA to harmonize state application standards under NEVI grant program

April 11, 2024
Different state approaches to NEVI grant applications could result in disparate, unpredictable consumer experiences associated with EV charging.

NATSO, representing truck stops and travel plazas; SIGMA: America's Leading Fuel Marketers; and the National Association of Convenience Stores urged the Federal Highway Administration to better harmonize state application standards under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure grant program to ensure that consumers' charging experiences are consistent from state to state.

Almost every state participates actively in the NEVI Program, which is supported by the retail fuel industry. More than half of all EV charging stations under the NEVI grant program are set to be constructed at truck stops, travel centers, and other fuel retailers. Different state approaches to NEVI grant applications, however, could result in disparate, unpredictable consumer experiences associated with EV charging.

"NEVI dollars can go the furthest when they mobilize grant recipients to not only install charging stations but also to provide an ongoing, positive consumer experience for EV drivers even after the NEVI program lapses," NATSO, SIGMA, and NACS said in their comments. "The more attractive and ubiquitous this experience is for consumers, the more comfortable they will be buying EVs. This, in turn, will further incentivize charging station investments even in the absence of government support."

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NATSO, SIGMA, and NACS urge FHWA to consider the following when reviewing and approving subsequent state plans for distributing grant funding:

  • Prioritize driver amenities: 24/7 food and beverage offerings, restrooms, and on-site staff are essential elements of the on-the-go refueling customer experience. FHWA should ensure that states require site hosts to offer positive consumer experiences by assessing proposed charging stations' surrounding amenities.
  • Require executed site host agreements: FHWA should prohibit states from issuing grant awards to applicants without committed site host agreements with site owners. Proposals with candidate sites that rely upon future infrastructure or development create a significant risk that those developments may not advance as anticipated.
  • Prohibit caps on rate of return: FHWA should prohibit caps on rate-of-return or revenue-sharing requirements. Limiting the ability of fuel retailers to make a return on investment will discourage private businesses from applying for NEVI grants.
  • Discourage overly restrictive evaluation areas: States should award grants to the best individual site rather than allowing state Department of Transportation agencies to group highway segments and award them to a single bidder. Grouping highway segments makes it virtually impossible for consumer-oriented site hosts who are linked to fixed real estate to apply.
  • Ensure adequate time for grant solicitations: FHWA should require states to provide at least a 90- to 120-day response time for grant solicitations and establish clear grant application expectations that include advance communication with potential applicants.
  • Allow a variety of connector types to be eligible under the NEVI Program: FHWA should not mandate the use of the J3400 connector or require its availability in addition to other connector technologies. States should not be permitted to mandate the use of the J3400 connector. Flexibility concerning charging technology will future-proof infrastructure investments while fostering competition and innovation.
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FleetOwner Staff

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