Hundreds of EV Drivers Urge Costco to Keep Chargers

Costco charging stationsPlug In America, a very vocal, electric vehicle (“EV”) advocacy group, has issued an “action alert” to its members, after Costco Corporation announced that it would be removing its EV charging stations in California. “Costco corporate officials have told Plug In America that the company has decided not to participate in the California Energy Commission grant program,” said Plug In America co-founder Marc Geller.

Since Sunday morning (8/14), 735 EV drivers and supporters nationwide responded to the alert, sending emails to James Sinegal, CEO of Costco, urging the company to stop removing EV charger stations in California and instead, upgrade them at no charge to Costco, through a state grant program.

“We are past Costco members, and would gladly re-join if we could charge our Nissan LEAF electric vehicle at your stores,” wrote Andrew Basile, of Arrowbear Lake, Calif., in his letter to Sinegal, which he also posted on the MyNissanLeaf forum. “As we live high up in the San Bernardino Mountains, having the ability to charge our car at Costco, down in the valley, would make the round trip, to two of your stores, convenient for us. Stores that support our desire to reduce our dependence on petroleum are much more likely to get our business.”

Costco has been an EV pioneer having supported those who purchased EVs in the 1990s, and early 2000s. Hundreds of these vehicles, saved by the EV advocates who founded Plug In America, are still being driven by their owners, many of whom are still using Costco’s 60 charging stations around California. However, at least a dozen of these Costco charging stations have been removed, or are scheduled to be removed in the near future.

Furthermore, even while several large retail chains—Best Buy, Ikea and Walgreens among them—have announced ambitious plans to install EV chargers, and thousands of new EVs are hitting the road, Costco has declined to participate in a California Energy Commission (CEC) grant program that pays all expenses associated with upgrading legacy charging equipment for the new market.

“Plug In America urges Costco to rethink their decision,” Geller said, “maintain their existing infrastructure, take advantage of the state grant, and start planning for expansion of their charging network.”

This appears to be an ill-conceived and ill-timed decision by Costco management. I hope that the large response from these EV supporters causes the company to make a quick reversal. Surely, the many benefits of upgrading, maintaining, and even expanding their charging infrastructure far outweigh the costs.

Steve Puma is a sustainable business consultant and writer.Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. You can learn more about Steve by reading his blog, or following his tweets.

6 responses

  1. Ah, … why does Costco have to provide EV chargers at all ..?? Really… ? Costco does allot for its paying members at it is. When they decide something is a long-term benefit for its members, they commit and implement. Even so, they’ll try things and if they prove to not be a benefit then they move on. Everything has a cost as nothing is ever “free”. Even if its just the real estate foot prrint these charger stations are using, the ratio of their use is probably not high enough to warrant keeping them, and maybe Costco has decided to use these spaces for more whse merchandising for its members or just use them for the majority for the member who have the usual gas automobiles, … Whatever it may be its probably a smart long-term business reason.

    For the EV owners, they should be lobbying the EV auto manufacturers to engineer better battery technology to provide better battery life, … right? … Instead of making others (businesses, etc.) provide something that is their own responsibility based on their own decisions (to buy such a vehicle). If you don’t like the limits of your EV auto, then why did you buy it in the first place … ?

    I like shopping at Costco. Costco is one of the few businesses that really provides great product and services for of its paying members.

    1. Big mistake by Costco since the number of EVs is growing and is forecasted to expand enormously.

      Too bad they lack the forethought to participate in ReConnect California program.

  2. Costco is doing the right thing! It’s a criminal waste of taxpayer dollars to put charging stations in short term retail parking. You get about 10 miles per hour of charging, so if you live far away, is it going to make sense to drive an extra 20 miles out of your way to charge for 45 minutes while you shop?
    Can you depend on the charging spots even being available when you get there? Do you think there will be 500 charging spots is every parking lot of every retail store? Put taxpayer money to better use and put the chargers where they will be used for longer periods like parks, malls, movie theaters, town centers, etc. Walgreens and Costco’s don’t make sense. Please be more responsible Plug in America! You should be ashamed of yourselves for your actions with Costco.

  3. One or two Quick Charge ports at Costco would go a long way toward making Costco a great place to pull off the highway to stretch my legs and get a snack while the 30 minute charge progresses.  It wouldn’t have to be free, I wouldn’t mind paying a few dollars in order to extend my trip beyond a comfortable 35 mile radius.  Even an L2 charge for 1 hour is a noticeable boost in range, and if you are stringing together several stops during a day of shopping, those 30-45 minute L2 charges add up.

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