This article was published on June 10, 2022

North Carolina’s plan to ban free EV charging is an environmental disgrace

The proposed bill is plain stupid and ridiculous


North Carolina’s plan to ban free EV charging is an environmental disgrace
Ioanna Lykiardopoulou
Story by

Ioanna Lykiardopoulou

Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives. Ioanna is a writer at SHIFT. She likes the transition from old to modern, and she's all about shifting perspectives.

While the US federal government is moving towards standardizing fast-charging infrastructure and installing the first national network of chargers on highways, North Carolina might be going in the opposite direction.

NC Representative Keith Kidwell, together with his colleagues, Reps. Ben Moss of Richmond County, Mark Brody of Union County, and George Cleveland of Onslow County, last week filed House Bill 1049 — one of the country’s most anti-EV bills to date.

Titled “Equitable Free Vehicle Fuel Stations,” the proposal wants to remove free charging stations in North Carolina and ban EV charging on government property. That’s unless free gas and diesel fuel stations have “equitable” availability.

Here’s how the Representatives are fighting ‘injustice’

Hi there, EV nerd!

Subscribe now for a weekly recap of our favorite mobility stories

First off, the bill wants businesses (restaurants etc.) with free charging stations to print at the bottom of every receipt how much of the customer’s bill goes towards subsidizing charging — whether the customers make use of the service or not.

How exactly stores are supposed to calculate this cost is unclear, unless they can accurately determine how much business came in as a result of the free charging. The logistics don’t really work here.

But even if there is a way, it doesn’t really matter. How is providing free EV charging any different from spending on ads, or offering free WiFi? They all come from the same operating budget that aims to attract as many customers as possible.

Secondly, the bill aims to prohibit the use of public funds (from the state and the local governments) for free EV charging on public land unless fossil fuels are also provided for free.

That’s where things start to get really insane, simply because it’d be impossible to install free gas stations. The higher price of gasoline compared to electricity would require larger public funds, which would, in turn, require heavier taxes.

And if the Representatives are so worried about wasting taxpayer money, then shouldn’t taxes be spent on making your planet (and life) better?

To put it in a nutshell, the bill’s provisions are clear: no more free EV chargers just because.

Kneecapping the EV uptake isn’t justice

Realistically speaking, no good could ever come from the implementation of such measures. What we’re looking at is an evident anti-EV polemic, provocatively disguised as “equity.”

Let’s take a look at the last section of the bill:

There is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Transportation the sum of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) in nonrecurring funds for the 2022-2023 fiscal year for the purpose of removing any electric vehicle charging stations that do not comply with the provisions of this act.

In fact, this becomes effective from July 1, regardless of whether the provisions mentioned above are codified into the law. It makes no sense, does it?

So there you have it: the problem isn’t free chargers, but EVs in general.

The reality is that this bill is designed to gather support from gullible people who think EV charging is expensive and doesn’t have larger benefits than costs.

But let me make one thing clear: offering free charging isn’t a matter of discrimination against ICE owners, nor favoritism towards “a rich few” who can afford an EV — it’s a necessity.

At 27%, transportation generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. To alleviate this problem and move closer to our climate goals, we need the transition to electric vehicles — and any incentive that’ll help us get there.

Fortunately, the bill in its entirety hasn’t become law yet, and is subject to vote. If you live in North Carolina, or just don’t want to see the world burn, you can visit the bill’s page and let the legislators know that it’s plain stupid.

Get the Shift newsletter

Get the most important mobility news in your inbox each week.