Site Hosts for EV Charging Stations
A site host is the owner or occupant of land on which an electric vehicle charging station is built. Site hosts represent a variety of industries and land use types, including:
- Tourist destinations and public lands;
- Businesses and institutions, such as hotels, shops, universities, and restaurants;
- Transportation facilities, such as airports and fleet depots; and
- Community sites, such as a public library or town hall.
Additionally, site hosts have different reasons to provide EV charging services, including:
- Attracting or retaining EV-driving visitors or customers;
- Attracting or retaining EV-driving employees;
- Earning revenue from user fees for EV charging;
- Supporting a new fleet of electric vehicles or buses; and
- Encouraging more widespread adoption of EVs for the environmental and public health benefits.
Partnership Success Story: Charging at State Park Lodges in West Virginia
In West Virginia, EV charging stations are available at all 10 State park lodges in the State. Drivers can charge their vehicles for free, but lodge owners noted that while people are charging their vehicles, they spend money at the lodges, including in gift shops and restaurants and for overnight stays.
Site hosts can provide public or private EV charging stations. For example, municipal governments may choose to let anybody access the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) and plug in their vehicles at publicly accessible community sites. Retail centers may also opt to install public chargers with the intent of attracting customers.
In contrast, some companies offering workplace charging at an office location may choose to restrict EVSE access to just their employees. Similarly, hotels may install EVSE in a private parking lot as a service only to hotel customers.
Of the approximately 12,500 privately owned Level 2 and direct current fast charging (DCFC) stations nationwide, about 14 percent restrict access to select groups, such as site tenants, employees, visitors, and fleet drivers. Across all 53,100 privately, publicly, and utility-owned Level 2 and DCFC stations, just 2.5 percent are private access only.
While site hosts can initiate EVSE planning and installation, they can also be key partners for other entities looking to install and operate EV charging stations. Public-private partnerships (P3s) involve partnerships between public agencies (such as local governments and transportation authorities) and private companies to produce publicly accessible infrastructure. Benefits of using a P3 project delivery method can include leveraging private funding or financing for a project, accelerating project delivery, and minimizing risk for a public agency.
Legislation enabling P3s varies across States, producing a variety of contracting options. Check FHWA’s Innovative Program Delivery Listing of State Legislation to determine which statutory framework can be used for a local project.
The following subsections discuss different types of site hosts to help rural entities identify possible partners.
Tourist destinations include any sites of natural, cultural, or historical interest for visitors, as well as nearby gateway communities that provide services to these visitors. Often, popular tourist destinations provide transportation services such as parking, shuttles, and bicycle rentals to improve the visitor experience and attract future visitors.
As EVs become more commonplace, tourist destinations could provide EVSE as another transportation service, allowing visitors to park and charge their EVs while visiting other site amenities, such as gift shops, restaurants, and attractions.
At rural tourist sites in particular, EV charging stations could alleviate range anxiety, or the fear experienced by many EV drivers of not being able to find a place to charge their vehicle. Charging stations in these locations could help maintain or even increase the number of EV-driving visitors from far away locations, and in turn, increase revenues for the site hosts and surrounding businesses.
Common tourist destinations in rural areas and potential partners for rural EVSE projects include public lands such as national and State parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and monuments. Publicly available charging infrastructure at public lands and in gateway communities helps to encourage visitors with electric vehicles to visit and to support the local economy. In addition, encouraging the use of electric vehicles in parks and public lands helps to reduce air pollution and noise, protecting sensitive resources and improving the experience for visitors.
In recent years, Federal land management agencies, such as the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service, and State park departments in several States have installed EV infrastructure. For example, the National Park Service has partnered with DOE, BMW, and the California Energy Commission to implement EVSE. There are currently more than 140 chargers in national parks and gateway communities across the country. Colorado has partnered with the electric SUV and truck company Rivian to implement EV charging stations at all 42 State parks.
For Federal land management agencies, the General Services Administration’s Blanket Purchasing Agreement for EV charging stations is available to assist in acquiring EVSE.
For more information on considerations for partnering with national parks and public lands, see the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) report Best Practices for Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Installations in the National Parks.
Local Businesses and Institutions
Many types of local businesses—such as grocery stores and restaurants—can serve as site hosts to public EV charging stations.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC), there are currently about 9,500 privately owned but publicly accessible Level 2 charging stations in the United States, with chargers hosted by hotels, restaurants, gas stations, car dealerships, shopping centers, airports, parking lots, banks, and other site hosts.
Partnerships Success Story: Customer Spending at a California Retail Store
As part of a pilot study, ChargePoint and a major retail chain installed six free-to-use Level 2 charging stations at the retail chain’s new California location. After nine months, based on the charging session lengths, the retailer saw that the average EV-driver was spending 72 minutes at the retail site, which was 50 minutes longer than the average customer. Additionally, the chain saw increased revenue of $56,000 while spending only $430 on electricity. On average, the shoppers spent about one dollar for every minute they were in the store.
Like tourist destinations, local businesses can see economic benefits from hosting a charging station.
Alternatively, local businesses may provide free charging or otherwise allow the utility, network company, or other third-party to own or operate the EVSE. In these latter arrangements, the business owner may attract more customers and customer spending.
Transportation facilities, such as airports and park-and-rides, also serve as important site hosts. Airports are ideal hosts for a range of EVSE.
DCFC stations in short-term parking lots could serve EV drivers who are waiting to pick people up at the airport, while Level 1 charging is sufficient for long-term parking lots to serve travelers leaving for multiday trips. See Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Airport Parking Facilities for additional information on the relevant policy, planning, and implementation considerations for partnering with an airport facility manager.
Though not necessarily publicly accessible, fleet depots are crucial site hosts for fleet owners to transition to EVs. In most cases, transit agencies and privately owned truck and bus fleets will want dedicated EV charging infrastructure that is not open to the public. However, some types of fleet charging, like EVSE serving municipal fleets or vehicles operated by community-based organizations, could also serve the public during set hours.
Rural entities can work with fleet owners to help identify demand for charging stations. In some cases, collaborating with fleet owners can support rural entities’ larger strategic initiatives, such as long-term transportation and environmental plans.
For example, in 2021, Link Transit in rural Washington unveiled four wireless rapid charging stations to support its fleet of ten 35-foot battery-electric buses. Link Transit, which serves the towns and rural areas of Chelan County and Douglas County, has found that its electric buses are quiet and reliable, with less maintenance and lower operating costs than the agency’s diesel and gasoline powered vehicles. The wireless chargers allow the buses to charge periodically throughout the day, with a few minutes at the end of each route, so the buses can cover more than 350 miles without coming out of service for a full recharge.
Municipal, county, and Tribal governments are crucial partners as community site owners. Community sites such as libraries, schools, business districts, and even public facilities like curbside parking spaces play an important role in ensuring widespread access to EV charging.
For example, renters may not have options for home-based charging unless their landlords choose to install EVSE. Residents who have only Level 1 charging capabilities at home may find they need to travel long distances on single trips, not have sufficient downtime at home for charging, or experience financial burden from home charging, particularly during peak times for electricity use.
EV chargers that are publicly available, especially those with unrestricted access, can fill the gaps in EV charging to make an electric vehicle a feasible option for more residents of rural areas.