Many plug in vehicle drivers in the Washington, DC area work at federal facilities that don’t allow EV charging. The existing policy is based on a GAO interpretation of law that essentially bans charging stations for employees and contractors, even if they are willing to pay for the equipment and electricity. Congress passed legislation in 2012 to allow the Architect of the Capitol to install charging stations in congressional parking areas but ignored the rest of the federal workforce.
On May 9th, 2014 U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren along with Reps. Thomas Massie, Anna G. Eshoo, and Rob Woodall introduced HR 4645, that would allow federal agencies to construct EV charging stations for employees with electric vehicles at no cost to the taxpayer. The EV-COMUTE Act (Electric Vehicle Charging Offers Modern Utility Terminals for Employees Act) is modeled after the program put in place at the U.S. Capitol for commuters to pay a fee to use the charging stations that offsets the costs for both the construction and use of the stations.
Rep. Lofgren said, “I myself drive an electric car and I know they are an important part of improving efficiency and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. There’s really no reason why government employees shouldn’t be able to pay to charge their vehicles while they work and that’s what this straightforward bill does.”
“The EV-COMUTE Act takes a successful clean energy initiative in place at the U.S. Capitol and expands it to federal agencies nationwide, allowing commuters to plug in their electric vehicles at work for a small fee,” said Rep. Eshoo. “As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government should lead by example in offering workplace charging. Silicon Valley is home to thousands of electric vehicle owners, yet the more than 5,000 federal employees in my congressional district have no access to charging facilities at work because of a quirk in existing law.”
Rep. Massie, an MIT graduate who uses solar power at his Kentucky home and drives an electric car daily in Washington DC, said, “In my personal and public life, I consistently support an all-of-the-above energy strategy for the United States. I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation because it will expand transportation options for many Americans at no cost to taxpayers.” Rep. Massie serves on both the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
Federal employees currently don’t have access to use of paid charging stations at their workplace parking facilities. In fact, agencies are currently prohibited from constructing or even entering into contracts with charging service providers under current law. The EV-COMUTE bill would allow federal agencies to construct and operate battery recharging stations in parking areas used by federal employees. Specifically, the bill would:
- Authorize federal agencies to maintain on a reimbursable basis a battery recharging station for the use of privately owned vehicles of federal employees and others authorized to park at federal facilities.
- Authorize agencies to enter into contracts with vendors to construct, operate and maintain battery recharging stations.
- Authorize agencies to charge appropriate fees to individuals who use the charging stations to ensure the recovery of costs incurred for the installation, construction, operation and maintenance of the stations.
As of May 29, 2014, the bill has been introduced and referred to committee. Rep. Lofgren is trying to build support and gather cosponsors in order to move this bill forward.