This live event occurred on September 27, 2021 as part of Generation180’s event series celebrating National Drive Electric Week.
Major gas stations are adding EV chargers alongside their gasoline pumps, making long road trips with EVs even more feasible. Range anxiety is becoming a thing of the past as new charging locations become available. Check out the live conversation we had with panelists from gas stations and convenience stores across the country who are part of the transition from pumps to plugs:
Stuart Gardner: Hello, everyone, and welcome to Generation180’s National Drive Electric Week event, Pumps to Plugs: Reimagining Your Gas Station. If you’re here to learn how electric vehicle charging infrastructure is becoming more accessible across the country, then you’re in the right place. Today, we’re joined by 3 fascinating experts, each with a unique perspective on the future of charging. Gerard DiBona Jr., Project manager, Corporate operations at Land Hope Farms. John Eichberger, Executive director at The Fuels Institute. And Annie Gilleo, Manager, Policy and market development at Green Lots.
But before we get started, I want to tell you briefly about Generation180. We’re a national non-profit organization based in Charlottesville, Virginia, working to inspire and equip individuals to take action on clean energy. My name is Stuart Gardner and I’m joined by my colleague Blair St. Ledger-Olson and a special thank you to our team members working behind the scenes to help support this event. Next slide. Here’s a quick look at Generation180’s, three major focus areas of work.
We’re working to flip the energy script, helping us move from a narrative focused on climate, doom and gloom to a story on where we need to go. A world power by 100% clean energy. A story that says we can do this and we all have a role to play. We focus on individuals in their homes and communities because your energy matters. Certain behaviors and technologies not only help fight climate change, but they also help build the social momentum and political will. We need to get big system-level changes. We lead to major nationwide campaigns. Solar For All Schools and Electrify Your Ride, which work to make EVs more accessible. Solar and EVs are clean energy solutions proven to address two of the largest sources of carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generation and transportation.
Excellent OK, so just a few quick housekeeping items. All attendees will remain on mute throughout the event, so you use the Q&A to submit your questions. We’ll get to as many of your questions as we can over the next hour. So without further ado, let’s hear from our guests. Gerard, do you want to kick us off and introduce yourself?
The ‘Going Electric’ pledge:
“I want to help accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy. I pledge to make the next vehicle I purchase an electric car.”
Gerard DiBona: Sure, no problem, thank you, Stuart. My name is Gerard DiBona and I’m the corporate operations project manager here at land hope farms. We are a small, three stores currently right now, with one underway in development. At one point we had about 20 stores and early 90s turned around and sold them. And then just started redeveloping and bringing stores back to fruition here. My background is in facilities, construction and operations.
SG: Awesome, thank you. Annie, how about how about you?
Annie Gilleo: Sure, I think, Stuart. I’m Annie Gilleo. I manage policy and market development for Green Lots. Green lots is a technology company that makes software platform for managing EV charging, and then we also provide turnkey services for our customers. So everything from site assessment to engineering, construction, hardware, procurement and so forth. Green lot supports a large portion of the DC fast charging infrastructure in North America and also a growing number of level two Chargers. I’ll say a bit more about our customers and sort of why we are so interested in this conversation, we’re having today. Our customers are typically larger organizations, so utilities, fleets, automakers, cities, retailers that have large footprints. And we tend to take more of a business to business approach rather than a consumer facing approach. So one example would be that green lots is the network provider for electrify America’s DC fast charging network. So all of the services we provide for them are white labels. You see, Electrify America stations, green lots is behind the scenes there. The other thing I wanted to just mention is that green lots is a member of the shell renewables and energy solutions group. And so, you know, a lot of our mission is driven by that as well. Shell announced at the beginning of this year that it plans to deploy 500,000 charging stations globally by 2025 and green lots. Work is a key part of that strategy. So we’re actively working with Shell’s mobility team to identify opportunities to incorporate EV charging at their existing fueling stations and green lights is also, of course, taking a broad view to opportunities to deploy EV charging across use cases with our other customers.
SG: That’s great, thank you, Annie. And John, how about you?
John Eichberger: I’m John Eichberger with The Fuels Institute. The Fuels Institute is a non-profit research group, and the term fuels makes people think petroleum, but we’re basically defined fuel as any energy that moves vehicles around on the ground. We launched an electric vehicle council last year as well to focus specifically on charging infrastructure. So we’re doing a lot of research on how many do we need, where do we need them? When do we need them putting together papers to help businesses figure out how to get into the business and what their options are and how to navigate the path forward? And personally, I’ve started with the National Association of convenience stores representing convenience fuel retailing industry about 21 years ago. So the I was the guy on Capitol Hill trying to explain when gas prices went up. So this whole idea of how do we get from pumps to charging as kind of a nexus in my career. So looking forward to a conversation today.
SG: That’s great. Thank you so much. Kind of along those lines, John, how big of a conversation is going on now among convenience stores and fuel providers regarding electric vehicle chargers? Is it on their radar? Like, are you guys are actively discussing this?
JE: Yeah, it’s really on the radar. I’ve done probably 50 presentations this year and 45, 46 of them on our electric vehicle infrastructure. I’m still part of the leadership team at acts as well, and I’ll tell you the conversations we’re having at that level with the leadership of the association is really focused on how do we create a business environment. So that it makes sense to put in Chargers so that we’re there to service the customers when they start transitioning to a new vehicle? The big challenge is there’s not enough demand out there to really make the Roy work out. And so those putting Chargers in now are doing it really just kind of be first mover and get out there in the market and help out their customers. But the economics are so challenging. So a lot of the work we’re doing through the fuels Institute is looking at that business case and how do we establish a market strategy? So any retailer who wants to get into the business can do it in the most cost effective way and time. It just right so that they can actually get an Roy in a short term while servicing their customers when the needs there. So the attention is laser focused. We have the annual trade show next week. We have 3 education sessions dedicated to EV infrastructure. We’ve got, I think, 16 to 20 different exhibitors showing EVS, equipment and services. So the attention is laser focused on it because it is a huge shift in how they go to go to market, and they really want to figure out how to do it right.
BSLO: Wow, that’s really interesting. And thank you for joining us. It’s it sounds like you have quite a handful of events going on right now. But on that same note? To John’s point, you know, he just said it is hard to make that leap, and so I’m curious as to what the process looks like for land hope farms when they first decided to install EV Chargers and what that decision making process looked like.
GDB: So at LandHope farms, we’re constantly reviewing new products and new ideas to stay current with some of the industry. We’re also looking at our customers as well evaluating our current base, and we started to see more and more customers starting coming in with different EVs. And that just kind of sparked the initial idea of, hey, we should try to do this. It’s not too frequent here in Pennsylvania to see too many of the C stores. We’re home to Wawa, one of the biggest c-store chains on the East coast, and there weren’t too many of them here in Pennsylvania that had the EV Chargers. So we wanted to look into that to try to stay ahead of that curve. So that initially sparked our interest in it, as well as looking at local businesses, local businesses like Longwood Gardens as close to us. It’s a national, huge property here that has a lot of flowers, plants and things like that, and they were looking at EV Chargers for their facility and we have some common network connections over there so that they helped us facilitate that as well from a local business standpoint. And then we actually have RV Chargers or with ChargePoint, and they help facilitate the entire process from planning to execution.
SG: Awesome, and you have kind of following up there, Annie and John, is that kind of the typical process that from your experience, convenience stores and fuel providers go through, like kind of wanting to be a first mover or they’re seeing demand like, How’s that? How’s that work? You know, who’s initiating the conversation as a business owner or is it the charging infrastructure provider saying, hey, you guys should consider this?
AG: I’m happy to jump in there, John, with just kind of the green lots experience, which is sort that it’s really worked both ways. I think in particular you’re seeing sort of a mix of different business types in a see store space. You have really huge companies, you have small mom and pop stores, and that means kind of different level of awareness and resourcing when it comes to interest and ability to install EV charging. So green lots has been very active in trying to set up conversations with convenience store and fueling associations. We’ve been working through shell to identify wholesalers who have interest in EV charging. You know, it really is about bringing information to these potential customers and then kind of the key factors will be different depending on who we’re talking to. For some, it’s about how easy can we make the project? What can we do to facilitate it so that they need to do as little as possible? It’s about where incentives might be available to help bring down that upfront cost. And then you just kind of, yeah, the interest in being a first mover because that really is a big part of the equation is just making sure that you are getting your footprint in those ideal locations now as the market is taking off. And I think that for some of the customers that we talked to, there is the recognition that we’re going electric, right? That’s the way the transportation system is going. For others, I think there’s still a large wait and see approach, and I think that will shift over the next couple of years. But the conversations are really they really vary depending on what type of potential customer you’re talking to. I don’t know, John, if you have kind of a similar
JE: Yes, it’s more regional, I think there’s definitely the type of business you run, but also regionally, if you’re in California or in Florida, New York, yeah, you’re seeing EVS, you know, but I’ve got we got members in the areas who’ve never seen an electric vehicle. They still believe they’re a myth in a mythological creature, and they don’t believe it’s coming. And so getting them to kind of open up and talk about one of my opportunities here. But I think for the most part, if you got the progressive stores, yeah, they may be looking out and reaching out to equipment providers or network providers. But we’ve been working with a lot of the networks, including green lights and Electrify America and EV go and Tesla try to help them partner up with potential convenience store operators in their target geographical markets. So they’ve got certain areas they want to put their Chargers in. And so we’re trying to marry them up with convenience retailers who may have facilities that would accommodate their side, their space. So we actually have two new papers coming out next week on future proofing your store so that you can create an environment when the time is right. You can put a Chargers in there because not everyone can accommodate a charging operation and to Andy’s 0.90 1,000 convenience stores are single store companies. These aren’t your target audience for the most part, but the companies that have a larger footprint where they can accommodate four or five DC fast Chargers. That’s kind of where you want to be. And you also want to put in areas where the highway corridors are facilitating long distance travel and in communities where we have a lot of multi-unit dwellings. So there’s a lot of things going into it, but it really is a hodgepodge and one of the things we’re trying to do is get the industry to really recognize that. Are you going to lose your business tomorrow? Our EV is going to take over the world tomorrow. No, they’re not. Are they going to continue to grow at a faster pace over the next 10 to 15, 20 years? Absolutely And you need to be able to accommodate your customers. Because ultimately you don’t want to lose your traditional customer. If your customers come into your store two or three times a week and they buy an EV and you don’t have a charger. Are they going to continue coming two or three times a week? You need to make sure they understand you’re there for them, whatever their energy, whether it be food, energy or transportation, energy, whatever their needs are, you want to make sure you’re satisfying them and getting them to recognize that when they’re in markets where they’ve never seen an electric vehicle is a major challenge.
BSLO: Well, I mean, you just hit upon some of the topics we talk about constantly on our team about how, you know, the theory of a just transition needs to also apply to gas station owners and making sure that we’re preserving those jobs and helping them electrify their businesses. So that they aren’t negatively impacted by the transition to electric vehicles. So thank you for that. And I’m going to keep you on the spotlight, John. And I think you touched you started to touch upon it a little bit earlier, but given today, we actually are seeing oil prices at a three-year high. I am wondering how does the EV charging industry or the fuels Institute as a whole really watch that fluctuation of gas prices? And are there conversations happening about how those higher gas prices can help drive the adoption of more fuel-efficient models? And are you seeing those spikes in the gas prices helped to push that conversation forward?
JE: It’s a conversation we’ve had for years, you know, do get you higher gas prices, get people to buy smaller cars and lower gas prices, get them to buy pickups. The answer is no. People buy the vehicles they need. They have a certain use and duty cycle for their life that they need. Within that class of vehicle. They may shop around for the best price, best fuel efficiency, all those things. That being said, higher prices will support EVs because as EVs become more cost-competitive at purchase price as the range gets better, as infrastructure grows and as the, quite frankly, as the buying population gets a little bit younger at that, the younger generation become the primary buyer. They’re going to look at any vehicle. I look and even go, why would I want to plug-in my car? They’re going to say, why would I not? I plugged in everything since the day I was born. Everything’s been plugged in, so it’s just a natural and the technology is going to be so just right for them at that time. But we have to keep in mind gas prices when they go high is a regressive impact. It really does hurt disadvantaged communities and lower income people who may not be able to buy an EV just yet because not affordable at that level. The challenge we have with the gas prices. Now is that a massive drop in demand last year because of the pandemic shut down a lot of production. Now we have demand back up. We’re almost at the same level miles traveled and gasoline demand that we had before the pandemic. But we haven’t restarted all the oil production because the global leaders have made that quite clear. Oil, your days are numbered. We want to ban combustion engines. We want you out of business. It’s kind of hard to justify putting a couple million into a new well, when you’re being told by your government, we don’t want you to play here anymore. And so I think we’re looking at this challenge with we need to increase the production to get this prices down to support all communities and all customers. But at the same time, the higher prices help accelerate the EV trend is a real challenge here. How to balance that out. But gas prices have get really high before people start making significant changes in their behavior and changing what they’re going to drive, the benefit of the EV market is the type of vehicle customers want to buy are now being offered an electrified powertrains, whereas two years ago they were not. So we’re starting to see that balance come into a place where the customer is going to have an actual choice, rather than having to make a leap of faith to a technology or change their behavior that can have a legitimate choice. And then we’ll flip a coin. I mean, probably have very different training and very different perspectives on what they’re going to choose and when they’re going to choose it. But at least they can have a legitimate choice, which is a great thing.
AG: No, I think you’re right on choice makes all the difference. And the fact that we’re seeing pickup trucks come onto the market. I’m on the wait list for a Ford f-150 lightning. That to me, is a real game changer. Like I think. I’m ure that electrification can reach near and far rural urban, anyone who wants a car has an electric choice.
SG: Awesome Yeah. So, you know, and again, kind of for Annie and John and for all of you, you know, when you’re talking with, say, the members of the association or you’re talking with your customers that are using your infrastructure products, what are some of their greatest concerns about adding electric vehicle chargers? And Gerard, like what were some of Land Hope Farm’s biggest concerns about adding electric vehicle charging? You know, what are the barriers that we’re having to address now?
GDB: As far as any of the barriers were concerned, we just wanted to make sure that we were strategic about the placement of the Chargers. You know, this is going to be an area that our customers were going to frequent, the ones that have the electric vehicles, they were going to frequent that area. We wanted to put them in a position where they could grow to additional Chargers in those parking spaces. So that our current customer base with the electric vehicles didn’t have to go searching for them somewhere else after the fact. So placement was a strategy as well as growth in to the fast Chargers. Right now, we have level 2 Chargers at our stores and level two charger, you know, 15 minutes to a half hour. You know, if depending on what you’re going to see at a see store, you know, isn’t going to give you too much of a result as much as a fast charger, but you’re also cost comes in the factor availability. Who’s going to be using it that all factors into that. But for today’s market, the level 2 Chargers get our feet wet. We get kind of accustomed to frequent of use and how our customers are using them. We’re seeing about between both stores. We have a store in Oxford and a store. Our store here right below our corporate office here in unionville, which is Kennett Square. We’re seeing about 25 users per month. And of 25 of those users, about eight of them are charging for greater than 1 hour.
SG: All right. Annie, when you’re dealing with potential customers or existing customers, like what are some of their concerns about adding electric vehicle charging?
AG: I mean, I think first and foremost, when we’re looking at an existing fueling station, just space considerations are probably the first thing that we look at. Most EV charging that we’re adding is not displacing other fuel pumps, right? You’re adding it in a grassy area, potentially taking away a couple of parking spaces. And so just making sure that there is physically enough space for those chargers, it’s probably the first thing that we’d look at. You know, I think that by and large, there is an understanding that this is an investment for the future and not necessarily something that’s going to have a quick return on investment today. So I wouldn’t call that a concern. So much as a consideration and a reality that our customers need to accept. I think that the other thing that we’re seeing in terms of just general concerns are, you know, how to best engage with the utility to understand operating costs and rate structure, how to interface with the equipment and software. So that they can manage load in an effective way, potentially adjusting prices throughout the day. So really optimizing both kind of the utility side and then the kind of revenue creation side are some of the things that our customers are thinking about.
JE: I think that’s critical. And one of the things we’ve been trying to do is I’ve been kind of brokering conversation between the retail leaders and utilities to talk about demand charges because right now the demand charge can make it very non-economical. The capital investment they can justify, they can figure out how to get away and that sort of operating cost when there’s not enough throughput. And we’re creating a calculator that we’ve been testing. We’re to release it pretty soon. We’re a retailer can go and put in what their investment is, what their are. All I want is what the type of charger they’re putting in, how many transactions are going to have to calculate what the Roy is, find out how much is going to cost them to sell the electricity, how much it’s going to cost, how much they have to charge the customer to overcome the demand costs. And what came from that was the more transactions you have, the less of a challenge the demand charges are. But until you have that throughput and that demand those demand charges can be an absolute killer, which is why so many convenience stores are partnering the third party network provider who takes care of all of that. And basically, you know, they come and go, we’re going to pay you x number of a month for these 10 parking spaces. To do anything, the challenge is now that retailer is now basically outsourcing their brand and their customer to somebody else, and they don’t have control over that, so it makes it challenging. The other thing we’re doing is we’re putting together a pilot project right now where we’re going to try to evaluate what the economic value of a customer is while they’re on site. We want to be able to try to track them from the charger inside the store, find out what they’re buying in there, how long they are milling around in the store and how that compares to another type of customer. So we can actually really understand the full value of that visit. And then roll it out to the industry. So we can create benchmarks so we can actually accelerate that calculation. So that a retailer can say, I know this is going to be good for my business and I’m going to make the investments. So a lot of uncertainties out there, a lot of questions about the economics, a lot of questions about the level of demand and all those things need to be answered before you’re going to have a lot of people jumping into this.
BSLO: Well, that’s really interesting, but I can’t wait to see that data. Personally, I’ve always heard, you know, that a lot of money is coming from a lot of revenue is coming from the purchases inside the gas station, the convenience store and not necessarily just from the gas itself. So it’d be really interesting to see that cost differential there. And how it plays out.
JE: Yeah so for the benchmark, you know, 2/3 of a store’s revenue comes from the pump, 2/3 of the profit comes from inside the store.
JE: It’s a very low margin business, and it’s going to be a low margin at the charger as well. How do we tie it all together and just make the economics work out?
BSLO: Well, on that note, in terms of the differences of what people are doing when they’re charging, I’m an electric vehicle owner and I primarily charge at home. I’ve used a public DC fast charger twice in my year as an EV owner because it’s really my daily driver. So you’ve got historically where I would have had to go to the gas station every time I wanted to fill up. Now I can do that at home, so or at the grocery store. And I’m wondering how in terms of, and John and Annie and Gerard, this is for everyone how you look at the placement of those vehicles are sorry of those Chargers. And we’ve got a question in the Q&A as well on this topic about what’s the different strategy for charging infrastructure to support long trips versus everyday daily drives. And so I’m curious as to how those different strategies and where you’ve got these, this infrastructure place now come together as we look at this rollout.
AG: I’m happy to take a crack at that one, Blair. You know, I do think it’s important to just first recognize that we’re at the early stages of EV adoption, so you’re right. Today, the majority of charging happens at home. That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what it will look like exactly in the future, right? As more apartment dwellers adopt EVs. Maybe garage orphans. I don’t have a garage myself or a driveway, so public charging is super important to me. So maybe the early adopters lean a little more heavily on residential than we might expect in the future. And I guess the other thing I’d add there is just commercial vehicles will increasingly also be using that, that public charging infrastructure. So I I, you know, in thinking through what does the landscape look like? Where are we placing charging equipment? I do think that today’s fuel providers are really well positioned to meet the need of around town, long distance travelers, commercial vehicles, rideshare vehicles, anyone who needs a quick charge. Of course, that won’t be the only way you’re charging, right. You charge your cell phone wherever and whenever you can. And I think that’s kind of more similar to what we’re going to be seeing in the EV space. So I do think it’s important to realize that it’s not going to be a one to one conversion of gas stations to EV charging stations. And so I guess just circling back to what we were talking about earlier, I think that’s why we’re really trying to encourage the fuel providers and convenience stores that we work with to move quickly. So that they can secure their footprint as the transportation landscape changes. You know, it’s not necessarily going to be that every gas station becomes an EV charging station that we’ll be looking to use those lands and businesses for other things, potentially. I guess the other thing I would just say the question was about best use cases for different charging types. And you know, that is one of the nice things about electric vehicle charging is that you have some flexibility or fast Chargers or getting faster. Those are also more expensive, usually to use. So those are great for road trips or emergency scenarios, folks who have long, long shipping routes, for example, something like that. If you’re going to the library or the grocery store, a level 2 charger that charges a little more slowly is probably right for you. I think. Various speeds is that also gives the folks who are more interested in kind of grid integration. A lot of room to make sure that we’re charging in beneficial ways as well.
JE: I think I agree, I think and I just said and you kind of took some of the words out of my mouth is. We hear we need 1/2 million chargers, but they don’t have to all be the same charger and we don’t need 350 kilowatt Chargers everywhere. If you’re in a community where people are driving 20 miles a day, but they need a quick charge, maybe a 50 kilowatts enough that they’re not replenishing that many miles on a regular basis. And the message, I think given the convenience retailers is right now, as you said, you will need to travel. You have to go buy gas, you have to go to convenience store gas station with an EV. You don’t have to do that. Anybody but charge in a lot of places at home, at the grocery, you said library. I don’t know. Do we even have libraries anymore? But you said libraries will go with that. But when you get in your car and you go, Oh man, I didn’t charge what’s top of mind? You’re going to the gas station if that gas doesn’t have a DC fast charger that gas stations no longer on their list of options. And so that first mover advantage that demonstration of commitment to your customers is critical. So when they need a charge and they don’t have time to wait, you can give them a 50 mile charge in five minutes. You have to have that capacity to do that. So it’s all about right sizing the market, the right timing. And if we can do it that way, we can itemize what our use case scenarios are, what charging configuration works for, what use case. We can actually save a lot of money and investment in insulation and accelerate it if we do it strategically and smartly. One size fits all is not going to work. We need to be very customized on how we do this. And luckily, I think there’s a lot of people looking at that. Our research that we’re doing right now, it’s going to is looking at that specifically as well to kind of help accelerate that discussion.
BSLO: That’s really interesting, thank you, guys. Jarod, do you have anything to add?
GDB: Yeah, I was just going to say, you know, both Annie and John hit both of the points. They’re about accessibility. S stores, you know, generally on typically very busy intersections. You know, you look for the busiest intersection, drop a see store there and you’re going to see a lot of activity. So just starting at a see store level, having those Chargers available to our customers is so critical because, you know, to John’s point, you might only need an extra 20 miles, 30 miles, 50 miles or whatever, you know, just to go in there. Come into our store, get a quick charge. Get a boost to get you to your next point of destination. And hopefully there’s an EV charger around that area, too. You know, we’re actually we’re designing our stores to be more comfortable with waiting. So if you do need that extra time, you can connect into our free fi internet. We have countertop seating available for about 20 of our customers. We also have picnic benches when it’s nice outside, know if you want to space out. You can do that too. Out there that Wi-Fi internet, that high speed internet will get you out there. So it just making it more of not only a transition point where you can recharge like a hub, but also making it accessible for somebody to just want to take a break and actually enjoy the lunch and just get a charge as well or watch a we had a customer come in. She parked her car at the charger, docked up, started charging, went in, came in, got some of our suit, sat right back down outside. And the picnic bench fired up Hulu and just started watching. She was here for an hour. You know, sitting there like, oh, that’s cool. Check that out. So it’s about making it comfortable while you wait as well as the destination. So not only from a recharging stance, but making it comfortable for the customers as well.
JE: And that’s a critical way you guys have done because that’s what I’ve been talking about to a lot of people as well as think about the multi-unit dweller who’s not going to have access to charging at home. They’re going to need to stop off somewhere 2 times a week, maybe three times a week if they can come to drug store, plug-in for half hour in the morning, twice a week, come and get some breakfast uses free Wi-Fi. Keep up their emails. Do some of their early morning work while they’re charging the car that becomes part of their weekly routine and Annie’s point cell phone. If you have a charger, they’re going to plug-in when they’re there. Even though they’re five 10 minutes, they’re going to plug-in because it’s there and it’s easy. I used to hold up my phone all the time and speeches go. How many of you got on an airplane with 40% left in your battery and wasn’t panicked already? You’re desperately looking for a wall outlet somewhere in the airport. The same thing with EVs. If you have a charger, they’re going to use it. And if you don’t have a charger and they’re going to get lunch but your competitor does, guess where they’re going. They’re going to go with a charger is because it’s convenient and it’s there. So there’s a lot of opportunities, but I love what you describe the way you’re configuring your stores. I think it makes a lot of sense.
SG: Yeah, that’s great context, Gerard, thank you. At the fuels Institute. Tell us about that group and like what type of people are part of that group and what conversations are you having?
JE: Yeah so you can imagine some of it was somewhat self-serving. I mentioned you fuels or everything’s petroleum. So the EV industry wasn’t really flooding our gates to come in and participate in our discussions. So we set up the EV council to focus. We’ve got network providers, we’ve got some oems, we’ve got equipment providers, we have retailers, there’s some utilities, a lot of non-profits who want to get in the mix and help move the discussion on infrastructure long. And we’ve really narrowed our focus to infrastructure. So we’ve published a report summarizing the regulations at State level and in 100 different msas that pertain to installation, operation of EVC. We’ve published a literature review on EV consumer behavior. We’ve published a site host toolkit to help people walk through hey, maybe I want to do an EV charger to hey, I just flipped on the power and I’m actually selling electricity. We’re doing research right now on when, where, how, what type we’re doing research on what policies have been successful in helping encourage EV deployment, which have not. And that’s from a quantified perspective, as well as interviews with program administrators, program recipients. And then we’re doing another one looking at the local regulations, what are the best practices for local regulatory structures to facilitate installation? There’s a lot of soft costs, a lot of delays because local regulatory officials don’t understand the market or they don’t. They have antiquated regulations. How do we get rid of those hurdles? And just like I said before, customers need to have choices of vehicles. Let’s give businesses real choice in terms of getting into the business by eliminating the challenges that don’t need to be there. And so that’s kind of what we’re doing. We’re trying to bring the different stakeholders together to share experiences. We’re starting to look at medium. And heavy-duty charging facilities now. And we had a session a couple of weeks ago looking at electric island out, and I think it’s hot in Portland with Portland general electric, and they’ve set up a charging station for big rig trucks. And so we’re really trying to get people to talk and share experiences. So we can accelerate the decision making process and make it easier. This doesn’t need to be so difficult to get into the business, and we can knock down some of those barriers and help it out.
BSLO: That’s really interesting, John, thank you. So I want to move this next question up on our list. It’s actually from the Q&A, and I think it’s for Gerard primarily. And if anybody wants to address this as well. Feel free, but what are you specifically dried and wind farms? How are you looking at partnering EV charging with clean power? So solar, for instance? And then for other folks, I’m curious as to where this has landed in your conversations as you’ve been helping other brands also install EV charging.
GDB: So as far as solar power goes, we have looked at different options for place. Once again, it’s similar to the discussion with the EVS, the EV Chargers. Where are you going to place them? Future growth? How’s that going to tie back into your system with your solar panels? You have all the cables similar to the EV chargers, you have the cables, conduits and all that good stuff. So when you’re talking from a planning stance development stance, there’s those costs up front. Any incentives that were there, you want to leverage your incentives, any incentives that are available. There’s incentives that are out there right now for solar power that we’re still looking into. There is thought in the planning process right now for us to integrate the EV Chargers to be powered by solar right now. There’s other C stores out there that are looking at planning that as well. And we’re looking to keep up with that process. But as of right now, our EV Chargers are powered off of the grid that we currently have, and we’re looking at bringing that into the future with solar panels. And that’s going to be critical to for success in any business that’s going to be hosting the EV Chargers.
AG: Yeah, the other thing I would just add about integrating renewable energy resources or storage into an EV charging project is that it has potentially a pretty great implication for operating costs as well as you’re not. You’re able to mitigate some of those demand charges by drawing on storage or by using solar at key points in the day. So I think when we’re looking ahead at both how to make the business case better for the folks that are investing in EV charging and also how to lessen the impact on our grid, that’s going to be a really key part of the strategy.
JE: Yeah, I think that’s absolutely spot on. If you can do some battery buffering systems, some sort of storage to minimize your demand charges to supplement your power during the peak time of time of use rates. How can you capitalize on that? And if you’re going to use solar, you need to have storage. And that’s really the only way to harness that. And I think we’re seeing more and more than networks and equipment. Writers look into these battery packs to go with their chargers, to help with the economics, to help with good resiliency. All these things are going to be critical and we’re just now chipping at the edges. But there’s so much opportunity here. Distributive power, all those things are possible, but we have to build it and really work together. Figure out how it all works, how it all works, but the opportunities are huge.
SG: t kind of along those lines of opportunities. You know, it’s not uncommon now to see Chargers at like Sheets and Wawa locations. And in the chat, someone was talking about how, you know, wal-marts have a lot of Chargers now is does anyone come to mind that is really kind of the leader in putting charging infrastructure alongside their gas pumps? You know, who’s really taking a lead there?
JE: So I’ll rattle off an hour EV counsel Sheets is on EV council, come and go out of Iowa is doing a lot of interesting stuff. It all depends on your market. You’re not going to see every store getting into it. And a lot of the stores that you just mentioned are outsourcing to a third party network provider because they don’t want to deal with the economics and the hurdle of it. There’s other big chains who are looking at a heavily circle. K is looking heavy. 7-eleven made a big announcement a couple of months ago. They’re going heavy shell green lots, they’re going heavy. There’s a whole bunch of big players looking to get into it. Had they made big investments and have they built out a lot of stations yet now, but we’re starting to see them Amendment and their plans are there, and it’s all about getting those numbers to work because even big energy companies have made the announcement. I mean, and you said, I think shell wants to do half a million by 2025. They also want to make money at it. So this isn’t altruism. I mean, they’re in it for business. And so the economics have to work. Otherwise they’re not going to be turning concrete. But you’re going to see a lot more players get into it over the next five years as the market grows and as demand grows, the realization of like, holy cow, this is real because I’ll tell you, I still have people telling me this is wrong. This is this is not going to work. This is going to fail. And I have to keep reminding them, you know, people said rock and roll was a fad to where we are today.
SG:I like that. Yeah, that example.
AG: Yeah, John, I think you make a good point. It is ultimately a business decision, right? And I think we’ve seen a lot of really big announcements, and I think that there is a lot of competition in this space for getting these EV charging stations deployed. But what that looks like right now is kind of shopping around for where it makes financial sense. And so I do think it’s really important to draw that link. But even though these private companies are really willing to put skin in the game and to make these investments, they’re also really driving those investments to places where policy and regulation and utility programs can support those investments and help bring down some of that upfront costs. So I think it’s not just the shells and the Myers and the wal-marts of the world who are either partnering or directly investing to deploy EV charging. It’s that they are supported by beneficial policies and programs that can help minimize some of those costs.
SG: And Gerard, it must make you all land hope. Farms feel pretty good about your strategy when you see some of these nationwide convenience stores and fuel providers doing the things that you’ve already done.
GDB: Absolutely, I mean, we’re a small chain convenience store, so we do have the flexibility to accelerate decision making, you know, there’s not too many people involved with the decision making process. So it does make things a lot easier, but it has to make sense to John and Annie’s points. It’s all about what your market’s going to be. You know, the availability. I mean, we’re probably 45 minutes to about an hour outside of downtown Philadelphia, downtown Philadelphia. You’re going to see Chargers everywhere. As a matter of fact, the Wawa down there, the new Wawa down by the Navy yard, they just put there’s probably about 10 Tesla Chargers down there, and that was just a recent construction. So I saw it when I was driving by to go to the stadium. So that was new for me to see that and be like, wow, this is really cool, like, really neat that they’re doing that. We don’t really have that market up here. We’re in more rural area, more farm. Attracting business, so as far as like a disrupter stance, we haven’t seen too much disruption from the electrical charge to the gasoline model at this point yet. We do, we do get our customers are using them, but we still have consistent fuel sales. It’s not going to be something that’s going to be a light switch that turns off overnight and it’s going to be it’s going to be driven by market. I mean, that’s. That’s what we’re discussing here, so but we want to be in front of it and be a part of it as it continues to grow. So that’s critical for us.
JE: And that’s a big point you made about market because we hear a lot of news about the projected sales of EVs. You know, 40% of sales, we’re going to be EV by 2035 or whatever the number are. That doesn’t mean the number of vehicles on the road are going to be 40% EV. So I did a market turnover now assessment. I think Bloomberg OK. Last year, it said by 20, 40, 60% of all equity sales would be plug-in. Well, if that’s true and you think about typical sales and scrappage rates, that only converts less than a third of the market to EV by 2040 at a 60% sales rate, now it starts going up faster than that. But I use that to explain to convenience retailers, look, you don’t need a panic. You know, this isn’t happening overnight, but you need a plan and you need to be aware of your market surroundings. Look at the trends, don’t look at national trends. Always look at your local trends and start talking to your utility. Now, start talking to your regulators and start talking to your strategic partners now to make the plan so you can get into the business when it’s right to do it. But I’ve had a lot of people calling me go, man, should I even build any more gas stations? A combustion engines are going to be on the road for 50, 60, 70 years. Yes you still don’t have a demand for fuel. Not as much. We’re going to see 1% to 2% drop in fuel demand, probably annually over the next 2021, 30 years. Fuel efficiency, electrification, all that stuff. We’re going to coexist for a very long time. And so you need to plan for both. It’s just it’s going to be a little more complicated because it’s not just one and done, but there’s time. But if you don’t plan now, you’re not going to get the incentives to help you because you’re going to phase out over time and you may lose first mover advantage to your competitor and lose that customer mind space. You need to be in that customer’s mind space in order to keep them coming to your store. And if you’re not offering them what they’re looking for, you just lost them for good. So that’s kind of the message we’re talking about, but there’s time, but don’t wait too long.
BSLO: It’s really interesting, thank you all. Rolling with the market. Market drivers seem for a second. I can say when I was primarily driving a gas vehicle, I had a brand of gas stations that I always went to. It’s where I had my little charger points thing that gave me the discounts charger points thing is going to be the new branded term, FYI, everyone get on board. But when we’re looking at electric vehicle charging, especially if there aren’t, if you’re doing a long trip and you don’t have the same access to the same charging brand all throughout your journey, how are we making sure that EV owners have trust in all of these different brands of charging stations, as well as streamlining the types of charging plugs that we’re seeing at all of them, so that if I pull up to a charger, I know no matter what kind of plug I have, I can use it. And John, I think we’ll start with you, since you oversee so many different clients and then let everybody else respond as well.
JE: Interoperability, the ability to charge at any charge you come to is a big, big deal if you take a look at the market dynamics now, Tesla has 75% share of new vehicles sold. That’s going to start eroding over time because more vehicles are coming on. They also have probably the biggest network out there because they made the investment, but it’s proprietary. If you’re driving a General Motors vehicle, you cannot charge it a Tesla location. Now they have indicated they plan to open up their network with an adapter to other vehicles. When we get to a point where the customer knows they can charge wherever they are, whenever they are. However, they are and it’s a commodity, then that’s going to open up the doors a lot. Gasoline is a commodity. Yes, there are certain additives and stuff that’s to distinguish them a little bit. But for the most part, you buy an 87 octane fuel at any gas station that’s going to perform just like every other gas station does. Electrons are the same exact way. What we have to get to a point where the vehicle is agnostic to what charger pulls up to and the Chargers agnostic to what vehicle pulls up to it. Once we get to that point now, we start seeing a seamless integration in the market, and that’s the direction I think we’re going. That direction is going to take a little while to get there because competition is really, really fierce. But eventually, that’ll start melting.
AG: Yeah. John, interoperability is one of GreenLots’ favorite words. Definitely core to our approach to market. And I think really what we see as key to making the market work for all drivers that you can pull up to a charging station and be sure that you can use it, that if you’re a charging station owner, you can swap hardware and software and have interoperability there. And so, you know, in addition to just thinking about plug type, the one other thing that I would add to this is just that within various networks, we are working together to make sure that drivers have that seamless experience. And over the past year, we’ve announced roaming agreements with most major charging networks across North America. So that you can charge at any station regardless of what app you have downloaded on your phone or what RFID card you have on your keychain. You’re not prevented from charging because of any memberships. There are no fees to charging at other stations and so forth. So I think creating that experience where, you know, we’re not at the point yet where we can really play favorites because we’re still trying to get Chargers in the ground, right? So making sure that where there is a station, you’re able to use it, that’s going to be really critical in building driver confidence.
SG: And it sounds like from Gerard’s previous point, if it’s all just electricity, the real competitive advantage then comes from that customer experience. So what do people have access to while they’re charging? That really differentiates you as a convenience store fuel provider?
JE: One of the things that’s going to be challenging, Stuart, is cost. How much is the electricity going to cost? Right now, customers can drive 45 miles an hour to find the best priced fuel without even slowing down. When we start getting into a competitive market with electricity charging, the cost to recharge might come into play in the consumer’s decision. We don’t know how that’s going to play out yet. And when you’re dealing with how many electricity jurisdictions do we have at different rates, policies and stuff? Stations located across that demarcation line between one utility to the other, their cost of electricity could be remarkably different. So eventually we’re going to get to a transparency model where we’ll be able to advertise how much electricity is. Is there a session fee? Is there an access fee? Is it just straight kilowatt hours to? customers are able to choose not only the amenities, but the cost breakdown because we have to develop a competitive market. So customers are getting the best value. The challenge is utilities have never had to compete and so they don’t quite understand when we talk about competition, that kind of we don’t understand what that means. We have our jurisdiction. We don’t have to compete. This high priority for the convenience retailing industry is we’re used to people leaving us for Penny a gallon. How are we going to be able to price electricity in a competitive market, transparent market and in a way that is protecting the consumers interest as well? It’s going to be that’s going to take some time to work that one out.
SG: We just have a few minutes left. We’ve been getting some of the attendees questions. What are some of the best resources for a convenience store fuel provider who’s considering installing EV chargers? Where does someone go? Where did you guys even start when you started considering this?
GDB: So when we started considering it, we actually reached out locally to other businesses that had them, Longwood Gardens was a big, you know, connection of ours. We have a relationship with them over there. They had invited us over to take a look and see what they were doing, the plan for these very green oriented companies. So we wanted to mirror that because they have a really good reputation locally and on a statewide national level. People come in, they go to Longwood Gardens. So when that opportunity was presented to us, we took a look at it. They were using chargepoint. We reached out at the conversation with chargepoint, and then they provided us all the information to get us started. Chargepoint being an infrastructure provider. And, you know, the economics made sense for us, and that’s what got us going, I mean, the incentives are important, too. You know, the incentives are going to be the big drivers having take a look and see what is available as far as not only from an infrastructure provider, but see what local energy companies. We have PICO around here, see what they can do to help you out. You know, federal municipal level incentives. I mean, they’re going to be huge as well. know, look at the website, see what’s available, that’s out there. You can never over research this right now. There’s a ton of material that’s out there.
AG: Yeah, I think, Gerard, your kind of two highlights where what I was going to say is, well, you know, one reach out to and the church. Or, you know, one of our competitors, and we’re happy to walk you through kind of what a project would look like, what options are and kind of make you feel more comfortable with the process. Utility is also a great resource, as Gerard mentioned, like they, lots of them have programs to help make the process cheaper and simpler. They’re going to want to know regardless, whether you’re whether or not you’re installing EV charging. So that’s one of the first places that I would turn would be to your account manager at the utility. They’ll help you figure out what’s available to you from the utility, potentially from the state as well.
JE: Yeah, I agree with of both of what they said. And he said, I mean, you can’t throw a stone without finding somebody who wants to help you do this now. It can be challenging if you don’t know who to call. We are working through knacks to build a website where match making is easier. So you can get a convenient mortgage EV and all the resources we’ve been building are there. But we’re hopefully by the beginning of next year to have a platform where you can load up your store characteristics, what you’re looking to do and have a list of vendors that will match you with that. You can then reach out automatically and ask them for information, whether they be network providers, utility providers, engineers or whoever to help them get into the business for trying to automate that. So if somebody has interest, they can go, log on, put up their information and then be immediately connected with people who can help them. But I agree with my first call me and my utility find OK, one what would it take me to have the power I need because I may not have the capabilities? Do they have a makeready program to get me ready? A lot of retailers are concerned about competing with their utility on the provision of electric charging. Is my utility thinking about installing and operating their own Chargers in that kind of need to know that because you need to understand that competitive market there, but you’re never going to that unless you call your utility. And you know, that’s that. Probably my first call is, OK, what do I have to do from your perspective? I’m going to sell your product. How do I do that? Gas stations have been dealing with refiners for years. Then you start looking at their utility as their product supplier, and they’re partnering on this because that’s a critical element.
SG: I just posted each of your personal cell phone numbers in the chat, so should be really easy for people to get additional information.
BSLO: That was not me.
SG: You know, it’s we’re at one o’clock, basically. There’s loads of more questions. There’s great questions in the Q&A, but just wanted to thank you all for joining. This event will be posted on our YouTube channel, so check that out. For more information about Generation180, you can go to Generation180.org. We’d like to encourage everyone. We have a whole week of events and recognition of National drive electric week, so tomorrow is EVs and the media. How reporting has changed about electric vehicles on Wednesday. We have a great topic on policy and EV and public transit. Thursday night we have EV trivia where you can win some big prizes. We have a special guest comedian joining us as well. And then Friday, all about electric school buses. So thank you all. One of the messages we heard here was about really market demand, so I want to encourage everyone. If you’re not driving an electric vehicle, you know, go to Generation180.org and pledge to make your next vehicle electric. So thanks so much and have a great week.
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