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GOP lawmakers warm to electric vehicles; bills address charging stations

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“It’s not something that can be ignored,” Coenen said. “The future is here, but Wisconsin is not ready for it.”

The bills, currently in legislative committees, have support from the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Automobile and Truck Dealers Association, and even Kwik Trip, which just a couple of years ago said EV charging didn’t fit with its business model.

The idea is to fill in gaps along major travel corridors, eliminate “range anxiety” and generally make it easier for people to travel throughout the country in electric vehicles.

“Kwik Trip always wants to be in a position to sell what our consumer wants to purchase from us to fuel their vehicles,” said Steve Loehr, vice president of operations support for the La Crosse-based convenience store chain. “If in the future that is electricity, we want to be able to provide it.”

Clean energy advocates object to a provision that would require charging stations to purchase electricity from their local utility company, which would prohibit the use of solar-powered charging stations.

Of 39 states with laws governing EV charging, only five include similar prohibitions, said Jim Boullion, director of government affairs for Renew Wisconsin.






Fleet Services Building

A Chevy Bolt charges at a solar-powered station at Madison’s Fleet Services building. A GOP bill in the Legislature would prohibit sales of electricity from charging stations that don’t get electricity from the grid. 




“This is really the odd man out nationally,” Boullion said, adding that as written the bill would be a setback.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby, has said it will only support the bill if it includes language prohibiting state and local governments from owning and operating charging stations.



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