First U.S. gas station to switch to 100% EVs opens

Source: By Christa Marshall and Blake Sobczak, E&E News reporters • Posted: Monday, September 30, 2019

The nation’s first gas station to convert fully to electric vehicle charging opened last week in Maryland.

The EV refueling station, run by RS Automotive in Takoma Park, will now allow four vehicles to charge simultaneously within a half-hour and will not serve gas.

Backers of the project say it could offer a model for other gas station owners looking to cater exclusively to the growing EV market in the United States.

“The conversion of this gas station can be the model to revive and repurpose petrol stations around the [world] that have closed, thus bringing cleaner air and economic revitalization,” said Matthew Wade, CEO of the Electric Vehicle Institute, which provided 60% of the funding for the project. The state of Maryland provided the rest.

Several U.S. gas stations have added EV chargers to their lineup to keep up with shifting market forces, but the Takoma Park gas station’s EV conversion marks the first time a private station owner has ditched fuel pumps entirely, according to Wade and Maryland energy officials.

The new “EV charging station” includes a convenience store and a repair facility that can also dispose of dead battery packs, and is aimed at offering a gas-station-like experience for EV drivers, Wade said in an email.

He said the station’s owner hoped to leave a cleaner environment for the next generation, including his 17-year-old daughter. The facility was also chosen because of the amount of potential EV traffic in the area, he said.

Wade said the owner will still need incentives to help pay for removing old gasoline storage tanks, environmental remediation and testing at the onetime gas station. The overall project cost has not yet been determined, although EVI received a $786,000 grant from Maryland to buy six direct-current fast chargers for seven locations across the state.

Maryland has joined nine other U.S. states in participating in a cap-and-trade system for auto emissions, offering tax credits to EV buyers in a bid to boost adoption of the technology. Earlier this year, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) agreed to fund $6 million in EV rebates after consumers quickly claimed a previous round of $3 million in incentives (Energywire, July 29).

“This fully converted gas-to-electric charging station is a prime example of our administration’s commitment to the environment and transportation,” Hogan said Friday.

The Maryland Energy Administration estimates there are more than 20,000 electric cars in the state, behind officials’ goal of getting 300,000 EVs on the road by 2025.

EV outlook

BloombergNEF estimates the number of EVs globally will increase from roughly 2 million in 2018 to 28 million by 2030. There were more than 850,000 electric vehicles on U.S. roads as of July 2018, up from fewer than 500,000 in 2015, according to the Edison Electric Institute. With that growth, thousands of public charging stations for electric vehicles have cropped up across the United States as automakers have boosted their battery-powered offerings.

Estimates vary based on station size, power level and type, but the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center returns nearly 23,000 results for U.S.-based EV stations.

Earlier this year, oil and gas giant Chevron Corp. announced a partnership with electric fast-charging provider EVgo to add EV services at five refueling sites in California (Energywire, May 21).

In a separate announcement last week, Exelon Corp. subsidiary Pepco Maryland announced it had energized the first of 250 public EV charging stations in Takoma Park.

“We know our customers are looking for new, cleaner transportation options, and these new chargers will help make it easier for our customers to make the transition,” Donna Cooper, Pepco region president, said in a statement.

Yet EV advocates face a long road in challenging gasoline’s market supremacy: The United States has more than 150,000 public gasoline stations nationwide, while Maryland alone maintains nearly 2,000 gas stations, according to the latest DOE data.