Category Archives: Legislation

Conference to Explore Role of Maryland Utilities in EV Deployment

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The Public Service Commission of Maryland has announced a Public Conference to explore regulatory issues related to the deployment of electric vehicles in the state.

The public conference is scheduled for July 14, 2016 starting at 10:00 AM in Baltimore. The PSC plans to provide a live stream of the panels.

Three panels are currently scheduled:

1) Utility Investment in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

This panel will discuss the potential for utility involvement in deploying EV charging infrastructure in Maryland.

2) The Grid-Related Costs Associated with Vehicle Fleet Electrification

This will address strategies, such as time-of-use tariffs to minimize grid-related costs associated with EV deployment.

3) Energy Justice Spotlight: Access to Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Charging Incentives in Limited-Income and Other Under-Served Communities

Panelists will discuss potential energy justice issues and identify potential methods to address them through coordinated EV deployment strategies in the State.

Download a PDF of the notice here.

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Private Property Anti-ICEing Law in Effect for Howard County

Ticket for blocking an EV Charging Spot Parking Citation SUV

Allows Police to Enforce on Private Property

As of May 11, 2016, the Howard County, Maryland law that gives police the explicit authority to write tickets for ICEing on private property is in effect. The space at the charging station must be designated with a sign that conforms to applicable standards.

Howard County Council Bill CB7-2016

In March, the Howard County Council passed an amendment that added the following two sentences to the existing anti-ICEing law:
(1) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY ENFORCE THIS SECTION ON PUBLIC PROPERTY OR PRIVATE PROPERTY.
(2) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY IMPOUND A VEHICLE THAT IS PARKED IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.

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Regulatory Signage Needed in Order to be Enforceable

In order for the Howard County Police to enforce the law, the spot must have a sign that is at least 12 inches by 18 inches and meet applicable State or Federal standards for parking control signs, i.e. standards as defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

Very few charging stations in Howard County have these signs. The dark blue signs at Columbia Association parking lots have not conformed to the standards but they are working with Howard County on getting new signs that do. As of May 10, 2016, the new signs had not been installed but unofficial pavement markings at each of the charging spots have been applied and when combined with the official signs, is expected to help reduce the ICEing problem.

A Role for Local EV Organizations?

The next challenge is to convince private parking lot managers to post the regulatory signs that will allow the laws to be enforced. I’ve suggested that local non-profit EV organizations could use their status in the community and leverage their sizable memberships as well as their financial resources to educate property owners and supply signs that meet the standards required in Howard, Montgomery and Baltimore Counties. A coordinated effort to get official signs installed would be more productive than public “shaming” on social media and freelance spray painting like happened a few years ago. (see: Is Graffiti the Right Response to ICEing Problem?)

@Lanny

Anti-ICEing Law Now in Effect in Baltimore County

Violation Punishable by $75 Fine

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Baltimore County Anti-ICEing Law Took Effect April 4, 2016

Baltimore County now joins Montgomery and Howard Counties in Maryland as having a law to prohibit non plug-in electric vehicles from blocking EV charging spaces. The bill was sponsored by Cathy Bevins and Tom Quirk and was passed unanimously by Baltimore County Council on March 21.

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Example of an official sign

The law is enforceable on private property that is used by the public such as shopping centers. The law says that in order to be enforced, the charging space must be designated by a sign approved by the police. Presumably, this includes that the signs must conform in design, color, size, and placement to the standards established in the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.”

A violation will be punishable by a fine of $75.00. There is no towing provision spelled out in the Baltimore County law.

The Baltimore County Police non-emergency number is 410-887-2222.

COUNTY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE COUNTY, MARYLAND
Legislative Session 2015, Legislative Day No. 4

Bill No. 9-16A PERSON MAY NOT PARK A VEHICLE THAT IS NOT A PLUG-IN VEHICLE IN A SPACE, INCLUDING A SPACE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY USED BY THE PUBLIC IN GENERAL, THAT

(1) IS DESIGNATED FOR THE USE OF PLUG-IN VEHICLES WITH A SIGN APPROVED BY THE POLICE DEPARTMENT STATING THE PROHIBITION OF THIS SECTION; AND

(2) PROVIDES ACCESS TO A PLUG-IN VEHICLE RECHARGING STATION.

(8) PARKING IN A SPACE DESIGNATED FOR PLUG-IN VEHICLES IN VIOLATION OF §18-2-212 IS A VIOLATION PUNISHABLE BY A FINE OF $75; AND

SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, that this Act, having been passed by the affirmative vote of five members of the County Council shall take effect on April 4, 2016.

Source PDF

Columbia Association Asks Police Not to Enforce ICEing Law

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Recently, the Columbia Association took down the “EV PARKING ONLY” signs at their five EV charging stations in Howard County, MD. [See: Signs Removed to Prevent Enforcement of Anti-ICEing Law] The staff said that they didn’t want people to get tickets after a law was passed to clarify enforcement at charging stations on private parking facilities in the county.

Taking down the signs was a surprise and contradicted the Columbia Association’s earlier position that the “EV PARKING ONLY” signs were posted only because Howard County had a law that the Council passed in July, 2014. [See: Anti-ICEing Bill Passed in Howard County]

I attended the March 24, 2016 Columbia Association Board Meeting and “resident speak out” session to bring the matter to the attention of the CA President/CEO Milton Matthews and Board Members to seek a resolution. Here is audio from that session:


Audio: @Lanny speaks to Columbia Association Board of Directors about EV Parking Signs.

At about the 3:50 mark, CA President Milton Matthews says the signs have been put back up, however they have reached out to the Howard County Police Department and told them that if a non-electric vehicle parks there, they (CA) does not want them ticketed or towed. This of course goes against the spirit of the anti-ICEing law that Columbia Association said they wanted and that the EV community and local lawmakers led by Jen Terrasa and Calvin Ball spent several years getting passed.

It doesn’t make sense to wait until there is an enforceable regulation to put up signs that reserve the spots for EVs and then to take the signs down or ask the police to not enforce the hard-won law.

The Columbia Association President told me to check back in about a month and he will tell me where they stand at that time.

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Temporary signs are back up at Columbia Association but the ICEing continues.

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Maryland Anti-ICEing Bill Advances – Green Pavement Marking Required for Enforcement

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If the current Maryland anti-ICEing bill becomes law, will most charging spots actually be enforceable? Probably not, unless charging station owners take the initiative to post the special signs and apply and maintain green painted markings on the pavement to designate each EV charging space.

Key Proposed Amendment Missing

House Bill 839 has passed a vote in the Maryland House of Delegates today, although it doesn’t have all the amendments that we asked for. Disappointingly, the bill still requires “green pavement markings” in addition to a sign in order to be enforceable. The inclusion of the pavement markings provision is reportedly at the request of law enforcement who say that they will not enforce parking restrictions at handicapped parking spots if the spot is not marked on the pavement and will apply that same policy to EV charging spaces.

Compared to Handicapped Parking Enforcement

Oddly, there is no requirement for handicapped parking spots to have pavement markings under Federal or Maryland State Code. The law enforcement sources that were consulted by the legislature reported said that some courts routinely throw out cases involving handicapped parking if the pavement is not marked and that is the basis for their position.

PlugInSites_RFSw

White pavement marking will not be enforceable – must be green.

Unfortunately, there are no uniform standards for marking the pavement at EV charging spaces. Some charging station operators use white stenciled lettering to mark the pavement. Some paint the whole space green, others only make the lines separating the spaces green. Some even use blue instead of green or white paint.

Signs Simplified

We were, however, successful in getting two amendments that we asked for. One was to remove language requiring that vehicles be connected for charging purposes. That was struck from the bill. The other amendment that we suggested was to remove the requirement for lengthy language to be stated on the sign detailing that violators would be subject to a fine and towing or removal at the owner’s expense. We suggested that the sign simply meet the applicable standards for parking control signs. That was adopted and the requirement is now simply to state the maximum fine on the sign, i.e. “$100 MAX FINE”.

Effective signage is possibly more important than laws in keeping people with gas cars from parking in EV charging station spots. It has been a challenge to convince charging station owners to post signs that are effective. There is also the issue of unintended consequences. A number of charging stations in Howard County Maryland had their signs removed recently as a result of the County Council passing an anti-ICEing law. The station’s owner, the Columbia Association, “didn’t want people to get tickets.”

Next Step

The bill heads to the Senate now. Stay tuned for developments.

Howard County Passes Update to Anti-ICEing Law

PlugInSites_org_hocoCB7-2016

Allows Police to Enforce on Private Property

In 2014, Howard County Councilmember Jen Terassa sponsored Council Bill 36-2014 which was designed to prohibit ICEing of EV charging stations. The bill passed and a law went into effect a few months later. Soon after, there arose varying interpretations of the Police Department’s legal authority to enforce EV parking spaces on private property. (see: Police: No Authority to Ticket for ICEing on Private Property)

In response, a new bill was introduced by Councilmember Terrasa and co-sponsored by County Council Chairperson Calvin Ball. (see: Message to Maryland EV Advocates from Howard County Council Member Jen Terrasa)

Howard County CB7-2016 will add the following two sentences to the existing anti-ICEing law:
(1) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY ENFORCE THIS SECTION ON PUBLIC PROPERTY OR PRIVATE PROPERTY.
(2) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY IMPOUND A VEHICLE THAT IS PARKED IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.

Council Voted to Pass CB7-2016

On March 7, 2016, the County Council voted in favor of CB7-2016. During the vote, Council Chairperson Ball thanked Councilmember Jen Terrasa for her leadership and partnership on this issue. Ball said, “I believe that renewable energy is important and I believe that we should continue moving toward a more sustainable future for our environment.”

Terassa said, “This is an important addition to the bill that we did before.”

no-parking-sign

Regulatory Signage Needed in Order to be Enforceable

EV drivers shouldn’t get too excited and think that the police can now just write tickets at any and all charging stations in Howard County. The law will require a sign that is at least 12 inches by 18 inches and must meet any applicable State or Federal standards for parking control signs. That means that in order to be enforceable, the sign must meet standards defined in the Federal or Maryland Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Very few charging stations in Howard County have these signs installed. The only place I’ve seen them are at Howard County government charging stations. Importantly, the signs at Columbia Association parking lots do not seem to conform to the standards.

A Role for Local EV Organizations?

It will be a challenge to convince private parking facility owners and managers to post regulatory signs that will allow the police to ticket. Perhaps some of the Maryland-based EV organizations that have memberships, money and influence can take the initiative to get signs that meet the required standards installed at frequently ICEd charging stations in Howard and Montgomery Counties. The Columbia Association Athletic Club would be a good place to begin. (see: Is Graffiti the Right Response to ICEing Problem?)

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Position on Maryland Anti-ICEing Bill HB 839

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There is a hearing today on bill HB 839 to prohibit “ICEing” of EV charging stations in the state of Maryland. I will be appearing before the House Environment and Transportation Committee to testify in person along with several other EV drivers and supporters. Here is the written testimony that I have provided to the members of the Committee.

Bill: HB 839 (Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicles – Reserved Parking Spaces)
Committee: Environment and Transportation
Hearing Date: March 3, 2016
Position: SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENTS

Chairman Barve and Members of the Committee,

I am an electric car driver from Columbia, Maryland. I have worked closely with Councilmember Hans Riemer of Montgomery County and Jen Terrasa of Howard County on legislation to discourage non-electric cars from parking at charging stations.

I support the general goal of HB 839, but have reservations about three specific details and would like to see the following amendments.

AMENDMENT NO. 1
On page 2, in lines 23 and 24, strike “THAT IS CONNECTED TO CHARGING EQUIPMENT FOR CHARGING PURPOSES”

AMENDMENT NO. 2
On page 3, strike in their entirety lines 3 and 4, “STATE THAT A MOTOR VEHICLE
PARKED IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION MAY BE TICKETED,TOWED, OR REMOVED AT THE OWNER’S EXPENSE.” and substitute “SHALL BE IN CONFORMANCE WITH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR UNIFORM TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES UNDER TRANSPORTATION ARTICLE, §25-104, ANNOTATED CODE OF MARYLAND.”

AMENDMENT NO. 3
On page 3, strike in their entirety lines 5 and 6 “(D) A PLUG–IN ELECTRIC DRIVE
VEHICLE CHARGING SPACE SHALL BE INDICATED BY GREEN PAVEMENT MARKINGS.”

The concern with the requirement that the vehicle be “connected to charging equipment for charging purposes” is that it could leave an innocent EV driver vulnerable to having a car towed or ticketed if someone innocently or maliciously unplugs them. It also prevents the practice of sharing one charging station among several adjacent spaces at long-term parking facilities such as at airports.

An essential element of HB 839 is the definition of a “plug-in electric drive vehicle charging space.” I believe that if the signage and pavement marking requirements are unusually difficult to procure or burdensome to apply, then the required signs or marking are much less likely to be deployed and the bill will not have the desired outcome.

Typically, notice that violators of parking regulations may be towed is placed on large signs at the entrance of parking lots in accordance with state and local trespass tow laws. In my opinion, there is no need to repeat the warning on the regulatory sign designating each charging space.

I propose adopting the sign requirements used in the Howard and Montgomery County laws. Those laws say that the signs must conform to State and Federal standards for parking control signs. The standards that would apply are from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Regulatory signs that are MUTCD compliant are easy to purchase off-the-shelf and have proven to be very effective.

Following are the relevant sections of the Howard and Montgomery County Codes:

Howard Co, MD: A sign that designates a space under this subsection must be at least 12 inches by 18 inches and meet any applicable State or Federal standards for parking control signs.

Montgomery Co, MD: is marked for the use of plug-in vehicles with an official sign that conforms to regulations adopted pursuant to Section 31-23 – (conform in design, color, size and placement to the standards established in the most recent edition of the “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways.”)

With respect to green pavement markings to designate charging spaces, this requirement is currently unique to Washington State. No other states or local jurisdictions that I am aware of require this.

I believe that the requirement to indicate a charging space by green pavement markings in HB 839 is imprecise and subject to misinterpretation by parking facility managers and law enforcement. Green pavement markings could be a voluntary option or regulated at the local level. For example, the blue rectangles with the International Symbol of Access often found on the pavement at ADA parking spaces are not required by Federal or Maryland law. If ADA parking pavement marking is mandated, it is done so at the local level in Maryland.

Thank you for your efforts to support electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Maryland.

I respectfully request that the Committee grant HB 839 a favorable report only with the stated amendments.

@Lanny

Funds Depleted for Maryland Plug-In Vehicle Excise Tax Credit for Fiscal Year 2016

2016ExciseTaxCredit2

If you are buying a plug-in electric vehicle in Maryland soon, you may have to wait until July to have your excise tax credit refund processed. According to the Maryland MVA, the funds for fiscal year 2016 are nearly depleted. The MVA says that refunds will be processed beginning in July as long as the application is received.

The following bulletin is dated February 19, 2016

Please be advised, effective immediately (February 19, 2016) the allotted funds for Plug-In electric vehicles for fiscal year 2016 are depleted. We are currently processing a number of applications received that will utilize the remaining amount of funding. Once all funds are exhausted, there will be no additional refunds issued for fiscal year 2016. Please alert your customers to this information prior to their purchase of an electric vehicle.

MVA will continue to accept applications for the excise tax credit until the end of fiscal year, even after the depletion of the fund. Plug-In electric vehicle refunds will resume in July 2016, for vehicles that meet the requirements.

@PlugInSites

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Howard County Anti-ICEing Bill CB7-2016 Public Hearing

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Video of the public hearing on Howard County Council Bill 7-2016 on Feb. 16, 2016.

Lanny Hartmann, Scott Wilson and Vladi Ivanov provided testimony in person. Mark Czajka, Director of MD Volt, Inc. provided written testimony in support of the bill.

Howard County CB7-2016 will add the following two sentences to the existing anti-ICEing law:
(1) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY ENFORCE THIS SECTION ON PUBLIC PROPERTY OR PRIVATE PROPERTY.
(2) THE POLICE DEPARTMENT MAY IMPOUND A VEHICLE THAT IS PARKED IN VIOLATION OF THIS SECTION.

@PlugInSites

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Maryland Anti-ICEing Bill Hearing March 3, 2016 1:00 PM

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Environment and Transportation Committee

Maryland House Bill, HB-839 [PDF link] concerning Reserved Parking Spaces for Plug–In Electric Vehicles, is scheduled for a hearing in Annapolis on March 3rd, 2016. The hearing will be before the House Environment and Transportation Committee at 1:00 PM.

HB-839 is sponsored by Delegate Clarence Lam who represents District 12 with parts of Howard and Baltimore Counties. I have spoken with his staff a number of times as this bill was being drafted. The latest update is that they intend to submit an amendment to remove the “connected to charging equipment” language from the bill.

How to Testify

If you wish to testify, you must sign in before the hearing begins. You may also submit written testimony. Be sure to follow the Witness Guidelines for the Environment and Transportation Committee for all written and oral testimony.

Stay tuned to @PlugInSites for details as they develop.

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