Under the settlement, Volkswagen AG will have to invest $2 billion over 10 years to increase access to EVs by supporting charging infrastructure and public outreach, with $800 million allotted to California. ChargePoint Inc. and California lawmakers including U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D) and state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D) argued that the special fund lacks oversight and risks stifling the EV-charging industry.
California has some experience with these kinds of settlements, and it’s not good. As I’ve written before, the state settled with NRG’s parent electricity company for defrauding California ratepayers during the phony electricity crisis and rolling blackouts at the turn of this century.
As “punishment,” NRG got to spend $100 million on a new line of business: EV charging infrastructure. The settlement terms though have never been followed, and the California Public Utilities Commission took over a year just to hire an auditor to find out what’s going wrong. The audit hasn’t even begun yet, a year-and-a-half later.
So if regulators and the court go down this path with VW, let’s hope they put real teeth into monitoring and enforcement of the settlement terms. Otherwise this deal won’t end up so well for taxpayers and the defrauded.