Costco does a lot for its members and tries to lead the way in environmental issues. So, they started to install electric vehicle charging stations at several of their locations. By 2006, Costco had installed 90 EV charging points at 64 of their stores in California, Arizona, New York and Georgia. Their early adoption led the way for other retailers like Best Buy and Walgreen’s to install them at their stores too. Unfortunately, the installed chargers are good for older electric vehicles but won’t work for the new cars like the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt. And instead of deciding to update the chargers, Costco has made the decision to remove the chargers all together. According to Costco, they just don’t get used enough to warrant keeping them around.
“We were early supporters of electric cars, going back as far as 15 years. But nobody ever uses them,” said Dennis Hoover, the general manager for Costco in northern California, in a telephone interview. “At our Folsom store, the manager said he hadn’t seen anybody using the E.V. charging in a full year. At our store in Vacaville, where we had six chargers, one person plugged in once a week.”
At least in California, Costco could take part in a state-wide grant program to update their charging stations, for free, to the new versions that would work for newer EV cars. However, they’ve decided against participating.
But now EV owners are hoping to change Costco’s opinion on the charger situation. Plug-In America, a Californian EV advocacy group, has started a letter writing campaign aimed at Jim Sinegal, CEO of Costco. So far around 800 people have sent in letters letting Costco know that they are displeased and won’t be members if Costco goes ahead with this decision. EV fans say they use Costco’s plug-in stations as the company intended – to charge while they make regular purchases there.
“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.
Is it worth it for Costco to keep the chargers around? Probably not, if no one is actually using them. Plus, there’s the fact that they are giving free electricity to people. I don’t know how much electricity it takes to charge one of these cars, but still, giving away electricity isn’t free for Costco since they still have to pay for it. Is Costco making a mistake removing the charging stations? Are any of you EV owners? How will Costco’s decision affect your membership – cancel it or keep it?
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