Once upon a time, oil companies bought corner lots in high traffic areas, buried storage tanks in the ground and placed gasoline and diesel pumps above them. The oil companies counted on a few cents profit on every gallon of fuel pumped. And the U.S. states each levied a few cents taxes on every gallon.
Today we are standing on the threshold of the electric vehicle era. Fossil fuel pumps stand to be replaced--slowly but inevitably--with electric charging stations. Who will install and own these stations and how will they recoup their investment costs? And how will the electric power companies get paid for the juice consumed in charging-up that electromobile? How will the gasoline station owners replace the lost profit from fossil fuel sales?
And how will the states replace the lost tax revenue from gasoline and diesel sales? These are questions now being considered by all the parties involved in the change-over. Revolutions produce winners and losers. Is it possible that this electric vehicle revolution can produce all winners?
EV auto charging stations are already more ubiquitous than you might thing. EV car maker Tesla offers on the Intenet a searchable national map of the seemingly hundreds of charging stations already installed and operating in the US (http://carstations.com).
The State of Minnesota and the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul have quickly demonstrated leadership in solving the recharging problems experienced by all EV owners. A coalition of electric utilities, government agencies and environmental groups recently completed the first highway corridor in Minnesota that's fully friendly to electric vehicles. From the Twin Cities to the North Shore and beyond, travelers on Interstate 35 and Hwy. 61 will be able to find enough charging stations for their electric vehicles to ensure they can make the trip without running out of juice.
It won't be the last electrified corridor in the state. Minnesota has already installed the first of three recharging stations planned for the route from the Twin Cities to Duluth. Other likely routes include I-94 from the Twin Cities to Fargo and I-90 across the southern part of the state.
The Twin Cities are also getting things ready for EV cars. Minneapolis has installed 39 charging stations for electric vehicles in several downtown parking ramps. St. Paul has published a map showing the dozens of EV stations within a 10-mile radius of the city center. A few more towns and cities--and not a few fueling station owners--are beginning preparations and construction in anticipation of an EV revolution.
It happened in Kansas. Kansas City Power & Light Co. made the decision back in 2015 to jump-start the EV revolution by installing more than 1,000 charging stations in its service area which straddles the Kansas-Missouri state line. The effort topped out at about 1,200 stations. EVs began to show up in larger and larger numbers. There are now close to 2,500 EVs using the charging stations. But one part of the utility's plan did not work out. State regulators in both states turned down KCP&L's request to pass along to consumers the $20 million cost of the charging stations network. The matter is in court.
Station owners, utilities and car owners everywhere are all muddling over the questions of who will pay and for what. Stay tuned.
Chuck Swann is Senior Editor of Paperitalo Publications.