Sheetz files lawsuit in Centre County over electric-car chargers

Sheetz said it paid a company to complete electric-vehicle charging stations like the one at the store intersection of North Atherton and Woodycrest Streets in Patton Township but the company failed to do so.
Sheetz said it paid a company to complete electric-vehicle charging stations like the one at the store intersection of North Atherton and Woodycrest Streets in Patton Township but the company failed to do so. CDT photo

In a lawsuit filed in Centre County Court last week, the Altoona-based Sheetz convenience store chain accuses a company it partnered with of keeping $112,500 in a deal that never came to fruition.

Sheetz claims in court documents that it entered into an agreement with 350Green LLC in September 2011 to provide five electric-car charging stations at Sheetz locations.

Sheetz operates seven stores in Centre County and has a station at its North Atherton Street location.

Sheetz agreed to pay the company $22,500 per station as an access fee. No fees would be paid for any station that was not up and fully usable by June 30, 2012.

An addendum in the contract, signed in March 2012, stated that all money paid for a charging station that was not usable by June 30, 2012, would be refunded.

Sheetz paid 350Green the total amount in April 2012. According to the suit, “to date, and despite demands by Sheetz, 350Green has not installed any electric car charging stations, nor has it returned the $112,500.”

But the trail of problems doesn’t end with 350Green.

Sheetz’s suit said that in March 2013, 350Green was “acquired and/or merged” with Miami Beach, Fla.-based CarCharging Group. Sheetz’s documents list 350Green and CCG as having the same address, although 350 Green was originally in California. Biographical data for former CEO Mariana Gerzanych on another website claims that the company was sold to CCG in 2013 for $5.2 million.

The lawsuit alleges a similar merger/acquisition with 350 Holdings LLC, which also has the same Miami Beach address. Sheetz claims both of those companies are “responsible and liable” for the contract breach.

Sheetz is seeking a jury trial in the matter.

CCG’s attorney was unaware of the lawsuit when contacted Friday. Representatives from the Sheetz corporate office did not return calls for comment.

CCG was the recipient of a $1 million state Department of Environmental Protection Alternative Fuel Investment grant to install electric charging stations at Pennsylvania Turnpike plazas in Allegheny, Westmoreland, Lancaster and Montgomery counties. The company was to match that money, and the Turnpike Commission put up $500,000 in infrastructure support.

“We are proud to expand the locations and support drivers as they travel throughout Pennsylvania,” said Andy Kinard, of CCG, in a Turnpike Commission news release when two of those stations opened in April.

A DEP spokesperson said Saturday that CCG is “working on plans for the rest of the project, which will include level-two and level-three stations for multiple locations across the Turnpike.”

“To-date, no DEP funds have been disbursed,” Morgan Wagner said. “However, the department is currently expecting requests for reimbursement on the four completed stations. DEP and the PA Turnpike will be coordinating closely on the reimbursements to CarCharging (Group) to ensure infrastructure costs and equipment costs are broken out according to originally agreed upon terms.”

According to Carl Defebo Jr., director of public relations for the Turnpike Commission, his office “has not transferred any funding to CCG Inc., as they have not yet submitted a request for reimbursement of eligible expenses.”

“To date, CCG has built four level-two EV stations and continues working toward project completion,” he said.

Pre-acquisition information on 350Green and its leadership, however, is scarce.

The company’s website lists Penn State as one of its partners. University spokeswoman Lisa Powers said she has found no evidence of any affiliation. The departments of transportation, finance and business, and risk management, and the Office of Physical Plant have all denied any knowledge of the company.

Gerzanych is listed as a member of UCLA’s sustainability certificate advisory group in her position as CEO and co-founder of PowerPact. That is a company that she and 350Green co-founder/president Tim Mason started in 2013, also providing electric vehicle charging.

Calls to PowerPact’s phone number were answered with a recording for CCG.

The LA Cleantech Incubator, where the company allegedly is located, said PowerPact is still on the records as one of its “portfolio companies,” but that there is no business being done.

“They are dealing with some other things right now,” an incubator representative said.