North Carolina bill seeks to end the scourge of free EV chargers

North Carolina bill seeks to end the scourge of free EV chargers

North Carolina appears to be at war with itself over EV charging in the state. As spotted by Clean Technica, Representative Keith Kidwell and three other sponsors introduced House Bill 1049, called “Equitable Free Vehicle Fuel Stations.” That’s the short title, the short summary being that Kidwell and company believe everyone needs to be aware of “free” EV charging or receive the same benefits, no matter what kind of car they drive. The first section states, “Any person who is engaged in a business where electric vehicle charging stations are provided for use by the public at no charge shall ensure that each customer of the business, without regard to whether the customer uses the charging stations, is informed of, on the receipt for purchases, the percentage of the amount of the customer’s total purchase price that is a result of the business providing electric vehicle charging stations at no charge.”

The subtext of that is, “every customer needs to know what those freeloading EV drivers are getting because of your contribution to the restaurant’s coffers.” This is as disingenuous as it is absurd, but the bill isn’t finished there.

Section 2 takes aim at free EV charging stations that the North Carolina Department of Transportation has installed at places like rest stops. This portion declares that the NC DOT cannot provide free charging at any location on land owned or leased by the state unless the NC DOT or the person leasing the land “provides gasoline and diesel fuel for motor vehicles through a pump to the public at no charge.” If Transportation wants to recharge Billy’s Ford Mustang Mach-E battery at no cost, it also has to offer to refill Troy’s Ford F-350 for the princely sum of nothing. HB 1049 writes the same language into prohibitions for counties and cities in the state.

That’s not the end. Section 5 demands the state’s general fund give the DOT $50,000 “for the purpose of removing any electric vehicle charging stations that do not comply with the provisions of this act.” This part of the bill, according to the bill, goes into effect on July 1 regardless of whether the bill becomes law. The rest of the bill needs to wait for the proper legislative process, like the governor’s signature into law, to take effect.

Although some publications feel the “bill aims for ‘equity’ in fueling vehicles for free,” to us it feels ridiculous to point out how ridiculous this bill is and how many workarounds there would be for private businesses to skirt its directives. If the sponsors simply didn’t want the state to subsidize charging, OK. But to attempt to try businesses in the court of public opinion and also financially penalize the state is regrettable. The state’s average commercial electricity rate is 8.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. Refilling the 98.8 kWh gross capacity of that Mach-E’s extended pack would cost the state almost $8.70, less than two gallons of North Carolina diesel in the current market.

We allege the state is at war with itself because elsewhere in the North Carolina state legislature, politicians sponsored a bill to punish anyone who blocks an EV charger, including unplugged EVs, other reps touted the commercial opportunities in charging station manufacturing, and the state has been talking up how it will prepare for the needs of EV infrastructure.

We have a feeling there’s much more of this to come as the country drags itself to an EV-heavy future.