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Electric Mobility Charging Networks

Many public charging stations are owned or operated by private charging network companies. These charging networks may require a membership to recharge an EV at their stations, although some States do not allow membership requirements if the charging network uses public subsidies.

Chargers installed with funding that is administered under title 23, United States Code, are subject to 23 CFR 680 which requires that memberships not be required for use, nor can they be cause for delay, limit, or curtailed power flow to vehicles.

Network companies also must provide third-party software developers with station information to allow users to locate and get directions to their charging stations. The DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center also provides this location information through its Locate Stations page.

Charging networks will also offer different payment methods and pricing models; note that chargers installed with funding administered under title 23, United States Code, are subject to 23 CFR 680, which provides requirements for uniform pricing display and payment methods. For additional information, see Determine Pricing, Payment, and Access.

For site planners pursuing a networked charging station—a charging station that is connected to the Internet through cellular or wired broadband service to enable payment, access management, and usage monitoring—a charging network can be a logical partner to engage early in the site-level planning process. As partners, charging networks can bring technical expertise and facilitate connections to other important project stakeholders, such as architects, engineers, and contractors. They also develop training resources, such as specifications and installation guides, for EV installers.

Once charging stations are installed and activated, the network can help a site owner or tenant set up the charging station policies, including pricing, access control, administration rights, and advertisements. Note that chargers installed with most Federal funding sources will be subject to 23 CFR 680, which establishes minimum standards for many of these types of policies.  In addition, a charging network can provide advice to the charging infrastructure site planner on best practices for running the charging station based on experience with other sites, including those in similar contexts or geographic locations.

As discussed under Decide on Ownership Model, both utilities and utility customers can own and operate charging stations. In addition to utilities, it is also common for charging network companies to own and operate charging infrastructure on property owned or leased by the site host. For example, several charging network companies partner with retail locations such as fast food chains and shopping malls to provide network-owned and -operated direct current (DC) fast charging.

Alternatively, site hosts can pursue business models in which they own the equipment while the charging network maintains and operates the equipment. The exact options for these roles depend on the network and equipment provider chosen.

(See “EV Charging Station Business Models” section starting on page 14:

Several resources are available to help locate charging network companies and the business models and partnering roles they offer, as summarized in Select Equipment and Network Provider.


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