Zooming Forward: Government and Businesses Unite to Create a Prosperous Future for Electric Vehicles

April 3, 2020

If you’re ever in need of a gargantuanly large statistic for a trivia night with your friends or your next cocktail outing, consider the amount of motor vehicles registered in the United States: roughly 273 million. This massive array of vehicles indisputably consists of brands – Ford, for instance – that have been around for many years and are recognizable by all generations. As the new decade unfolds, much will remain the same in the world of automobiles. Ford Motor Company will continue producing automobiles like it has for over 100 years, and folks will still continue to fill their up their cars at gas pumps like usual.

Yet, the new decade will also bring innovation in the form of the rapidly evolving, environmentally friendly sector of automobile manufacturing that many now know as EV, or electric vehicle, production. With automotive companies cumulatively pledging $225 billion towards EV development in 2019, the EV momentum is the strongest it’s ever been. Even the age-old Ford Motor Company revealed that it will be releasing an electric-powered Mustang. Creating an electric version of what has long been known as a gas-guzzling sports car is nothing short of daring and shows that even the largest automobile manufacturers are ready to ride the EV wave. 

Much like automobile companies, another entity is ready for a more EV-oriented future: the state of North Carolina. House Bill 329, otherwise known as Session Law 2019-132, was signed by Governor Cooper last year in a move that affirms North Carolina’s dedication to a greener future for automobile travel. Critically, Session Law 2019-132 allows EV charging station operators to re-sell electricity to consumers by the kilowatt-hour. As explained by Dave Schatz, director of public policy at the EV charging station company ChargePoint, “Kilowatt-hours are the gallons of gas that go into an electric vehicle. It’s very easy for drivers to understand they have a ‘tank’ that holds 60 kilowatt-hours, and they’ll be paying X dollars for each kilowatt-hour they consume.” In a nutshell, EV charging stations in North Carolina will begin to feel a lot more like gas pumps, making the change from a gasoline-powered car to an EV a little less scary. 

Earlier this month, a critical agreement between electricity giant, Duke Energy, and EV charging station powerhouse, ChargePoint, bolstered the promising outlook of Session Law 2019-132’s impact on North Carolina’s automobile makeup. Prior to the agreement, Duke Energy pledged to put a whopping $76 million towards installing at least 2,500 EV charging stations across the state. Seeing as ChargePoint operates the nation’s largest network of charging stations, it wanted to voice its own opinion regarding Duke’s massive proposal. Arising from concerns about charging equipment and pricing schemes, ChargePoint urged Duke to relax its original, more rigid view on how customers would be able to charge their vehicles. Duke obliged, and what followed was an agreement that will give “customers and site hosts greater flexibility in charging equipment.” 

Together, Session Law 2019-132 and Duke’s recent change of heart regarding equipment flexibility make owning an EV in North Carolina that much more appealing. Saying that you’re going to “charge your car” as opposed to “get gas” certainly can be scary for many people, including myself. However, with the pricing scheme allowed under Session Law 2019-132, the ‘kilowatt-hour’ really just functions as a new-age ‘mile-per-gallon.’ And with the massive influx of charging stations that will be arriving thanks to Duke’s (newly refined) investment, finding a place to charge an EV the way youwant to will be all the easier. 

Looking forward, Governor Cooper wants to get roughly 80,000 EVs on North Carolina’s roads by 2025. This certainly is a lofty goal and one that now largely rests in the hands of consumers. As shown through Session Law 2019-132 and the recent agreement between Duke and ChargePoint, the State and those who make EV charging possible have done their job. It’s now easier and more accessible than ever to operate and charge an electric vehicle. As we approach the midway point of 2020, only time will tell whether the EV industry will boom in North Carolina. Critically, the commendable efforts of North Carolina and companies like Duke Energy ChargePoint make owning an EV that much more desirable. More importantly, these efforts characterize a shared endeavor by both government and businesses alike to achieve a more consumer friendly, technologically advanced, and above all, ‘greener’ future. 

Boone Aiken IV