GAO: Electric Vehicle Infrastructure: USPS Should Plan for Potential Workplace Charging

Steve HutkinsBlog, News

GAO: The United States Postal Service’s (USPS) facilities, such as post offices, could potentially provide the public and postal employees with electric vehicle chargers. For example, publicly-accessible chargers could serve community members without a charger at their home. Additionally, five of the 13 stakeholders GAO interviewed said employees would most benefit from chargers at USPS facilities, given the time available to charge a personal vehicle during a work shift.

However, hosting chargers for the general public would pose significant challenges and provide relatively few benefits to USPS, according to USPS officials and stakeholders whom GAO interviewed. For example, USPS officials said hosting public chargers could be at odds with USPS’s goal of moving customers in and out of a facility quickly. Moreover, USPS is generally prohibited from offering nonpostal services, and officials said addressing challenges could require significant resources. In light of these and other challenges, USPS has not pursued chargers for the general public. Stakeholders GAO interviewed also recognized these challenges, but a few noted potential benefits for USPS, including improving USPS’s reputation on environmental issues and enhancing its relevance.

USPS is preparing to introduce electric vehicles into its delivery fleet and is planning to install chargers for these fleet vehicles. However, USPS has not fully incorporated the potential for employee workplace charging into these plans. USPS has taken some initial steps to explore the potential for employees to charge their own vehicles at work. These steps include designating leadership and surveying some employees on their interest. USPS officials said there are complex issues USPS would need to resolve before it could establish a workplace charging program, such as developing policies and potentially negotiating work rules with multiple employee organizations. However, the facility assessments USPS has developed in planning to install fleet chargers have not examined the potential for sharing fleet chargers with employees, or for installing additional chargers for employees’ use. Department of Energy (DOE) guidance encourages agencies to plan for long-term needs when installing chargers. Incorporating the potential need for workplace charging into current planning activities could spare USPS the expense of modifying facilities in the future.

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