Plug 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.
<em><a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">Steve Puma</a> is a sustainable business consultant and writer.
Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from <a href="http://www.presidioedu.org/">Presidio Graduate School</a> and a BA in Computer Science from <a href="http://www.cs.rutgers.edu/">Rutgers University</a>. You can learn more about Steve by reading his <a href="http://www.brightpuma.com">blog</a>, or following his<a href="http://twitter.com/stevepuma"> tweets</a>.</em>