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tv   Washington Journal Matt Nelson  CSPAN  January 20, 2022 3:39pm-4:05pm EST

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>> get c-span on the go. watch the day's biggest political events live or on-demand any time, anywhere. on our new mobile video app. c-span now. access top highlights, listen to c-span radio and discover new podcasts all for free. download c-span now today. far ae topic when it comes to electric vehicles, that of infrastructure? matthew nelson is the government relations director of electrify america. joining us from the autoshow. mr. nelson, good morning. matt: good morning. thanks for having me. pedro: talk a little bit about your organization. what do you do? what is your role in the space, particularly when it comes to electric vehicles. matt: electrify america is the largest provider of public d.c. fast charging, the fastest kind of electric vehicle charging in the united states.
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we did not exist five years ago so we have grown quickly, symbolic of this, or symbolic of this whole industry growing as quickly as it is. we now have about 800 stations in more than 35 -- and more than 3500 charges that provide what we refer to as ultrafast charging. chargers have 350 kilowatts of power. that equates to about 20 miles of range for every minute of charging. so, it's not quite as fast as consumers are expecting at a gas station, but it's pretty darn close. you've got the ability to pull into a station, plug-in, get a cup of coffee, maybe use the restroom, come back out and your car is refueled. we think that this move towards the faster, what we call ultrafast charging, is critically important for ev adoption more generally. pedro: how many ev charging stations in the united states?
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and is that enough to meet demand as far as current and future people buying electric vehicles? matt: it is definitely not. as i mentioned, we have 3500 ultrafast chargers open today, but we are opening a station every, almost every day. we open about four stations per week and each station has usually six to 10 chargers at it. the president has set a very ambitious goal of 500,000 charging stations by 2030. we think that's an achievable goal with a partnership between the public sector investment and the private sector. congress recently through the bipartisan infrastructure l provided 7.5 billion dollars ofaw billion dollars or $40 billion of total investment.
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as john, the last guest, pointed out, we need to be as convenient as the gas station model and they've got a 100 year advantage unless. but we are growing as does advantage on us -- advantage on us. pedro: you mentioned the money from the infrastructure lot. i suppose -- infrastructure law. i suppose you hear people talk about, why should the government support ev chargers, particularly if i don't drive an electric vehicle? matt: is a totally good question. there are two significant reasons why it makes sense for there to be public investment in ev charging stations. the first is that for normal folks, for middle-class folks, we want them to be able to adopt an electric car without it being a sacrifice. and that car needs to do
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everything in their life. and needs to get them to their favorite national park on summer vacation, and needs to get them to grandma's house on the weekend, and for that to be true, we need infrastructure to support those longer trips along our nation's. corridors the second really important thing that i think gets less attention is that only about half of the cars in the u.s. park overnight where there's electricity. the rest park in the street or in a parking garage or in a rental unit. for those folks who don't have an ability to park at home and charge at home, the public investment in charging creates the opportunity for that half of america to also drive electric cars. people love electric cars. there fun of the line, they are quiet, they don't shake, they don't vibrate, and this
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challenge of providing infrastructure, this challenge of providing charging, so all-americans can go electric without it being a sacrifice is critically important. the role of the public sector is two-fold, to provide the travel network, similar to the highway system itself, and the second is to address the equity issue of having half of americans with the easy ability to charge at home, and the other half of americans needing someone else to charge. pedro: joining us from the washington autoshow, matt nelson of electrify america. if you want to call and ask him questions, call. for you electric vehicle owners, (202), 748-8002. this is peter, cleveland ohio. go ahead with your question or comment. caller: one question, one comment. matt, how are you going to get
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-- the question is, where are you building your current stations now? are they sort of on the coasts, sort of in the east coast, kind of central, or are they spread around the country sort of more evenly? that's the question. matt: that's a great question, very important question. electrify america has taken a national approach. so, we have stations across 46 states today. we will be growing to the entire contiguous united states by the end of this year. and our approach has been, where people drive, they need to be served by an electric vehicle charging station. we've focused on primarily corridor charging, on highway corridors and rural routes, what we call regionally significant routes, roads like 395 in california or baltimore-washington parkway,
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which is in this area. but bottom line, we are across the entire united states. we think it is not correct to focus just on the coasts. americans live in all 50 states and we need to serve them in every part of the country. pedro: carrying in alabama -- karen in alabama, you're up next. hi. caller: good morning. i would like to ask the guest a question first and then proceed with my comment. how much funding does your -- do you receive from the federal government every year for your research and whatever it is you do? matt: so, electrify america is a private company. we are limited liability, an llc, and we do not receive any funding from the federal government. we have committed a $2 billion investment over 10 years to building out this infrastructure. and over last summer, we actually announced a plan to
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expand our investment. we did not put a dollar figure on it but we said we were going to double the size of our, actually, almost triple the size of our network up to 10,000 charging stations, 10,000 chargers at more than 1800 stations. we are committed, as a private sector actor, to expanding the infrastructure provided. as john, the last guest, highlighted, there i a need for additional investment beyond what the private sector is currently investing. that's where the public sector investment from the government will be so critical. how the bill is structured, how congress structures this, the funds flow to the states so the states will decide how and where to invest those resources, much like they do today with highway and transportation projects. we will see what happens with that. we think that we provide a compelling product that some states might think is the right product, but there are lots of
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other providers of charging services as well and we will see where those investments go at the state level. pedro: mr. nelson, how helpful are, or i guess harmful, are states individually as far as electric vehicle charger adoption? can they pass legislation to help or hinder that? matt: oh, absolutely. one of the most important factors is in whether electric vehicles become widespread in a state has become state policy. states have adopted incentives of all types. one of the most effective has been access to toll roads and bridges at certain times of day, for example. there are incentives and then there are other policies, such as standards, that have made a significant impact on driving ev adoption. the states that have invested in
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the charging infrastructure, as i said before, for most americans, there needs to be charging infrastructure in order for ev's to be a viable option for their primary car. so, the states have led the way on charging infrastructure tend to be the states where consumers are choosing electric vehicles at a higher rate. this is a nationwide growth industry right now. there are more than 2.2 million ev's on the road in the u.s. today. last year, sales were through the roof. in fact, for the first half of last year, we sold as many electric vehicles -- the nation bought as many electric vehicles in the first half of last year as the entire previous year, so it's growing quickly, and it's across all states. it's across the midwest and the south and the east and the west, even significant growth in hawaii. it is a growing industry across the board. pedro: let's hear from david in
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milwaukee, wisconsin. caller: how are you doing today, everybody? pedro: you are on, david. go ahead with your question or comment for our guest. caller: i have a question. where were you going to get the power from if you are closing all these coal power plants? how are we going to get the power to power stations and at the same time, get the power to power everybody's homes? pedro: thank you, dave. matt: that's a great question. so, we power our stations primarily with renewable energy today. insert parts of the country, it is 100% renewable. and other parts of the country, we are in the process of going to 100%. will also have built a number of solar canopies above our stations. when you pour into a gas station, you see the canopy, we build those canopies as well but we build them with solar power. so, we are able to generate
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electricity on site and then for the vast majority of the power, we buy it from renewable energy power plants. that's how we power our stations the renewables industry is growing quickly. we have not found that supplying power to our stations has been a limiting factor on our grid. the utilities have stepped forward, they continue to provide service to our stations. the availability of power has not been a major limiting factor to the growth of the charging industry. a little-known fact, we often get the question of, well, what about when the power goes out? gas stations don't work when the power goes out either. in many ways, our electric vehicle charging stations are an asset to the grid. we have battery backups at her stations, and they are able to provide what we call it virtual power plant to the grid. charging stations make the grid more reliable.
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it's a huge benefit to the what folks really want, which is an electric grid that keeps the power on, even in big storms in texas and fires in california. the charging industry and the charging stations themselves are helping with that problem. pedro: mr. nelson, there's a researcher at the university of california davis who talks about electric vehicles, particularly those energy demands. he wrote a piece in which he said, "subsidizing electric vehicles creates unintended consequences that harm the environment. and optimal policy would reduce the number of cars on the road, but ev subsidies do the opposite by making electric vehicles cheaper while leaving the price of gasoline cars the same. in areas where electricity is generated from fossil fuels, ev subsidies make the wrong signal. drivers respond to these signals in terms of the cars they buy and the amount they drive. the overall goal is to reduce pollution, ev subsidies are not
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the best way forward." how would you respond to that? matt: university of california davis is a leading institution in transportation research, so the source is an important one. what we have found is that the most up to date research on emissions from electric vehicles pretty clearly shows that electric vehicles lowered emissions -- lower emissions. it does depend on whether power comes from. by powering our stations with renewable energy, we know for a fact that the vehicles that we fuel have dramatically lower emissions than if they were powered by oil and gas. there's a lot of interesting discussion about how to incentivize ev adoption. and one of the key questions is, how effective incentives are, consumer incentives. most of the research we have
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seen, the leading research paper that we cite is usually the report by the national association of state energy officials, which found that incentives are the most effective policy at driving ev adoption. and that's because at the end of the day, this technology is 100 years behind, so the gas powered cars have had 100 years to innovate, to bring down the cost of their technology. and right now, it does still cost more to build an electric cart than it does to build a gas powered car. once it gets in the consumer's hands,, it has way fewer parts it doesn't need oil changes, it has way lower maintenance costs, and the fuel is cheaper. from a consumer perspective, the challenge of an electric vehicle is it's a greater upfront capital cost in order to get the benefits of lower operating costs. incentives play a huge role in leveling the playing field between the cost of the car up
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front. and overtime, they won't be necessary because the electric vehicles are coming down in cost of production. but right now, it does still cost to produce them, so incentives level that playing field between gas and electric cars. pedro: matt nelson of electrify america joining us for this discussion. we've invited ev owners to call in and give their perspective. this is jim from new york,. newburgh. inks for calling. caller: thank you. good morning. i had an ev and went back to a hybrid. simply because it fits my lifestyle better. the picture you paint of charging, though, i have to somewhat throw a disagreement in there. some of the charging experiences i had were really annoying. you would get there, the stations were not up, this is not only electrify america. the credit card reader did not work. you to go from machine to machine to try to find one that
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worked. even in electrify america, one time, the app what not recognize my phone number. next day, would not recognize the phone number. you have to call in support and get something changed. it's not as rosy as you paint it. i am sure we will get better but i guess i fall into the percentage of people who think that hybrids are still more efficient and more consumer friendly, and acceptable than just going fully electric. up here in newburgh, i had choices, places to charge my card. talking to people, they will ask you, how long does it take to charge? in about 30 minutes, i get 100 miles. they'd go like, nah, i'm not waiting 30 minutes. i know you want to get the charging times up as quickly as possible, but is there an issue with 350 kilowatts stations? what is the profitability of those for your company?
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pedro: we will let our guest respond to all that. matt: so, the consumer experience is one of the most important factors in creating a incentive for consumers to go electric. and the guest's point that he try electric cars and they were not convenient enough is exactly are core message -- our poor message. in order for regular americans to go electric, we need to charging that is ultrafast, extremely reliable and using nonproprietary standards so it does not matter what brand of vehicle you choose, you can use the station. those are the three most important criteria for an investment in ev charging that will last, what we call future proof. the point that was just made is the exact point of where we are
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now versus where we need to go. the stations are not reliable enough today. the number one concern among ev drivers, according to jd power and associates, which is a pretty credible source in the auto industry, they say the number one concern is the reliability of stations. while, one was the last time you thought to yourself on the way to grandma's house while driving a gas powered car, i wonder if the gas station will work this weekend? it's not even a concern. it's a thoughtless enterprise. you just go and when you need gas, you pullover. we need electric charging to be at that standard. is it there today? absolutely not. can it get there? absolutely. we need to invest in ultrafast charging, we need to provide that 350 kilowatts. as the guest pointed out, the cars have not been able to charge at that speed until recently. the average charging speed of new ev models has gone up three times in the last five model
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years. it is now up to 150 kilowatts average, which is, for those of you who are not electrical engineers, that's nine miles of range per minute. that's the average. and the vehicles coming to market that can use the full 350 kilowatts, they can provide 20 miles of range permanent. to the final quest -- arrange per minute to -- range per minute. to the final question, i think the guest will find if he buys a new electric vehicle, it is faster, reality -- reliability has gotten better. he will be able to charge in 15 or 20 minutes. the last point about whether this 350 kilowatt charging station technology exists, we put it at every station we build along highway corridors. we build more than 300 stations today. where the first to deploy this technology.
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when we deployed for the first time, it had never been done before. it's at more than 350 stations in the u.s.. it is growing rapidly. this is the future, in our view. pedro: one more call from our guests, john, an ev owner in ashland, ohio. caller: thank you for taking my call. i love c-span. here's my problem, reliability and the cost of battery replacement. the battery replacement on our vehicle is $15,700. the car is only 2.5 years old. people cannot afford that. charging is just ridiculous. i mean, some places work, some places don't. i have to concur with the previous color, he's absolutely right, it's not reliable. we are going to a hybrid vehicle also. pedro: that's john in ashland.
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matt: well, i will agree with the caller, as i agreed with the last caller, and needs to be more reliable. that's our number one focus as a company, making charging as reliable as possible. it needs to be something you don't have to worry about and think about. we are getting there. reliability is going up industrywide, particularly on our network. but this should be, one the government thinks through how to spend this $7.5 billion, from our perspective, they need to think about charging speed, but they also need to think about how they make sure they invest in reliable technology. the consumer expects it and deserves it, so it is absolutely the right question to be asking among consumers and also among government officials. pedro: before we let you go, to that last point, what role does the transportation secretary, pete buttigieg, play as far as
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deployment? matt: a critical role. next month, the department of transportation will issue guidance for the states on how they will issue -- how they will spend the $7.5 billion. and then in may, he will issue standards for how that money is spent. that's an opportunity to really define what is a nationwide network and make sure this is a high quality investment. from our perspective, we think is a no-brainer that that guidance should highlight three major points, charging needs to be fast enough to stay ahead of the vehicles on the market, needs to be ultrafast, and needs to be reliable, as a last two guests highlighted. and the third is very important, is the stations need to charge all vehicles. all the brands behind me at this autoshow should be able to, the drivers of those vehicles should be able to use the same stations. they shouldn't have to pull in, they should have to look at the
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sign and decide whether their cars compatible with that station. that's what nonproprietary standards do. those three points are the things that pete buttigieg has the chance to push there in his guidance and we hope he does. pedro: matt nelson with the company electrify america, he is government affairs director here from the washington autoshow. mr. nelson, thanks for your time today. matt: agriculture committee. watch coverage tonight at 9:30 eastern on c-span, online at c-span.org or full coverage on our new video app, c-span now. ♪
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