As Pennsylvania awaits federal subsidies worth hundreds of millions to build out charging stations for electric vehicles, private investment takes the lead.
Walmart said it will build an “EV fast-charging network" at thousands of locations, including Sam's stores, by 2030. This, as the state divvies up the first installment of more than $172 million in federal infrastructure funding to create a charging corridor across Pennsylvania.
Vishal Kapadia, Walmart's senior vice president of energy transformation, said the company is "uniquely positioned" to make EV ownership not only possible, but convenient, for people---no matter where they live.
The vast majority of Americans---90%---live within 10 miles of a Walmart or Sam’s Club store. So far, the company has installed about 1,300 charging stations at 280 stores nationwide.
Stores in East Stroudsburg, Clarion and Erie already have EV charging available, among others.
“We see our commitment today as a natural extension of our work to help customers and members live better, easier and more sustainable lives---a big win for busy families and drivers everywhere, our country and the planet,” Kapadia said.
Walmart isn’t the only company expanding its EV infrastructure, either.
Tesla has 50 charging stations across Pennsylvania, and more than 1,000 stations already exist, as The Center Square previously reported.
Sheetz built a handful of EV stations in Pennsylvania almost a decade ago and has since expanded to dozens statewide; 14% of its locations across six states now have electric charging available.
The privatized stations will soon compete with publicly funded ones, as PennDOT officials distribute $62 million---the first of three installments---to local governments, nonprofits and businesses over the next two years to get started.
Some politicians have criticized the effort, however.
“The nation did not subsidize the build-out of gas stations---the market took care of that,” Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-Jacobus, said in a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with PennDOT.
Currently, EVs pay an average of $300 less into the motor license vehicle fund than gas vehicles, Phillips-Hill noted, criticizing the subsidy that now exists.
About 67,000 electric vehicles are registered in Pennsylvania, but officials have not settled on how to levy a fee on users to replace the tax that gas-powered vehicles pay to maintain the commonwealth’s roads.
PennDOT Acting Secretary Michael Carroll defended the EV charger buildout, saying the money spent comes from federal funds, not state funds, and are restricted for EV charging purposes.