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This company built the biggest EV direct current fast-charging station network in the U.S., and its next step is even bigger: '[It's] a long-term dream goal'

"It's amazing to see the progress we've made."

Jigar Shah explains largest EV charging networks

Photo Credit: Electrify America

Since its founding, Electrify America has had one purpose: to create an affordable, eco-friendly, nationwide network of charging stations that will make it possible for the U.S. to transition to electric cars.

In May 2018, the company launched its first fast-charging station in Chicopee, Massachusetts. The station boasted the first cooled-cable 350 kW charger in the U.S. — much faster than the 50 kW electric vehicle charging stations that were most common then.

That was also the year that Electrify America's Head of Energy Services, Jigar Shah, joined the company, as Shah told The Cool Down. "I heard about Electrify America's move to rapidly deploy EV charging infrastructure in 2018 when I was looking to make a move in my career," he said. According to Shah, he reached out to a former colleague who had moved to Electrify America, "and the rest is history."

Electrify America started with a $500 million investment and a plan to roll out $2 billion worth of EV charging infrastructure in 10 years. Today, it has more than 800 stations in 46 states with more than 3,500 fast chargers, making it the largest open direct current (DC) fast-charging network in the U.S., according to its website.

However, just providing charging stations isn't enough for Electrify America. As Shah pointed out, "When customers are transitioning into an EV, they have an inherent expectation for it to be better for the planet."

Gas-powered passenger cars produce more than 3.3 billion tons of heat-trapping air pollution each year, per Statista. When electric vehicles run, they produce no air pollution, so they appear to be a 100% improvement.

However, the electricity to charge an electric car has to come from somewhere. Too often, that means a coal- or oil-powered plant. These fuels pollute the air and contribute to the planet's rising temperature — a major complication in Electrify America's plan to provide clean energy.

To address that issue, Shah explained that Electrify America made a commitment to back all its charging stations with renewable energy in 2022. Renewable energy is electricity generated using affordable and clean methods such as wind and solar. For every watt Electrify America drew from the power grid, it committed to an equal investment in nonpolluting energy sources, canceling out its carbon air pollution to make its operation carbon neutral.

Shah told The Cool Down that there were "roughly 173 GWh delivered across our DC fast-charging network in 2022, which enabled an estimated 493 million miles of electric

driving and avoided consumption of roughly 21 million gallons of gasoline." According to the company, it succeeded in its 100% carbon-neutral goal for the year.

To achieve that, Electrify America relied on environmental certificates, Shah said. But now Electrify is investing in a new project: Solar Glow 1.

Solar Glow 1 is a solar power plant being built in San Bernardino County, California, by developer Terra-Gen. Electrify America has entered a 15-year agreement to purchase the plant's power, which is estimated to total 225 GWh per year — a generous cut over Electrify America's yearly usage so far.

"The start of operations for Electrify America Solar Glow 1 means brand-new, additional renewable energy is being added to the grid," Shah said. "It's amazing to see the progress we've made as a society on renewable energy technologies."

That's great news for anyone considering switching to an EV in the U.S. Not only are charging stations more available than ever, thanks to Electrify America's expansion, but the power they provide will be affordable for drivers and safe for the environment. More and more drivers in the U.S. are switching to electric for the cost savings and the environmental benefits.

That's exactly what Shah and the rest of Electrify America want to see. "A long-term dream goal

for the company is to see the nation with 100% EVs and eliminating the use of fossil fuels for road transportation," Shah told The Cool Down. "We hope that accomplishing the start of operations for Electrify America Solar Glow 1 inspires others to make that EV transition sooner than later."

Shah also called on individuals to spread the word about EVs to their neighbors. "Speaking up goes a long way," he said. "Everyone can do their part to send the message that making climate-friendly decisions is not only the right thing to do, but often refreshingly better and lower-cost in the long run."

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