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USA: NRG Energy’s Electric Car Charging Network: Innovative Electric Utility

Innovative Electric Utility: That is not a phrase you hear too often (or hear at all). I would like to make the case, though, that NRG Energy (NRG) fits that description.

On the surface, NRG Energy appears to be your typical electric utility. NRG Energy does indeed stand out as having one of the largest portfolio of ‘green-energy’ power production in the entire nation. But other than generating power from much clean sources, NRG seems very much like other electric utilities. NRG Energy owns and operates power plants, currently produces enough electricity to power 20-million homes, and has retail operations in 16 states (as well as some assets internationally in Australia and Germany). This all seems fairly typical for an electric utility. Where is this innovation I alluded to? The innovative part of their business, that I believe is overlooked by analysts, is their wholly-owned subsidiary, called eVgo.

eVgo is America’s first comprehensive, privately-funded electric vehicle infrastructure of home charging stations and public fast charging stations. The eVgo network is not depending on any government funding programs for development, operations or expansion. This is a very important aspect of the eVgo network, which I feel should be highlighted right away. The political climate for everything in Washington is very partisan and polarized. With no reliance on the government, NRG Energy’s eVgo network will neither stumble nor prosper based on which direction the political winds in Washington are blowing. Success for eVgo will be based on NRG Energy’s own privately-funded investments and initiative.

Unlike efforts to build other types of alternative fueling stations (such as natural gas or hydrogen fueling stations), electric charging has the significant advantage of having a ready substitute for the over 100,000 tradition gas stations in the United States; your home. The home eVgo charging dock will, of course, be installed at a customer’s home. A subscription to a monthly electric charging plan will result in no up-front cost to the customer for the home charging dock or for the installation.

For Tesla (TSLA), General Motors (GM), Ford (F), Toyota (TM) and other electric vehicle automakers, an obstacle that needs to be overcome is public charging infrastructure. That is where the public eVgo charging network comes into play.


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