Ready for a weekend road trip? Sure, it’s the middle of January. But every season — winter, spring, summer or fall — is the season to drive electric. Grab a cup of coffee and a map, find out where the charging stations are, and get out and drive.
Electric road tripping is as old as the dawn of the automobile age. In 1908, Oliver P. Fritchle drove his “100-Mile Electric” from Nebraska to New York City and then to DC. He managed 2,140 miles in the open cockpit of his Victoria Coupe during the months of November and December. Fritchle survived the cold days and frigid nights with only a coat and lap blanket. [Fritchle Arrives in New York in an Electric]
More recently, a reporter for the same newspaper that reported Fritchle’s successful arrival in New York a century earlier, attempted to drive a Tesla up the east coast using the newly opened Superchargers in Delaware and Connecticut. The New York Times then published a photo of the red Model S on a flatbed truck with the headline, “Stalled Out on Tesla’s Electric Highway.” That controversial trip happened on January 23-24, 2013. Hard to believe it was seven years ago.
Indiana may be the first state in the nation to reconsider their supplemental fee on electric vehicles. In 2017, the Indiana legislature added an annual fee of $150 to register an electric vehicle and $50 to register a hybrid vehicle. House Bill 1227 introduced by Rep. Carey Hamilton and Rep. Rita Fleming would repeal those supplemental fees entirely.
Lost Gasoline Tax Revenue
State legislatures have been targeting plug-in electric vehicles for extra annual registration fees in recent years. About half the states charge these additional fees to make up for lost revenue on state gasoline taxes. West Virginia enacted a $200 annual fee on electric vehicles in 2017.
Electric Vehicle Fee Fair or Punitive?
Last year, Illinois proposed a $1,000 registration fee on electric cars that caused an outcry before they backed off and passed the bill with a lower amount. Some EV advocates say the fees are punitive and chills the market for cleaner cars. Others say it’s fair that all drivers contribute to the cost of the roads.
Canada to Mexico on the West Coast Electric Highway
Electric vehicle drivers can more easily take road trips using the West Coast Electric Highway charging network. The north-south EV routes include Interstate 5, California Routes 101 and 99. The I-5 route stretches from Canada to Mexico. [Map]
The project is coordinated by the Washington State Dept. of Transportation, Oregon Dept. of Transportation and the California Governor’s Office.
The network is anchored by AeroVironment Fast Chargers that are CHAdeMO only. These fast chargers are located between 25 and 50 miles from each other. There are also hundreds of J1772 Level 2 charging stations on the routes.
A Right to Charge bill before the Maryland legislature would require that the governing body of a condominium or HOA approve requests to install electric vehicle charging equipment provided that certain conditions are met.
Addresses Challenges for Multi-Unit Housing Residents
Maryland House Bill 111, sponsored by Delegate Marc Korman, would help establish guidelines and a process for condo boards and home owners associations to approve a resident’s application to install an EV charging station. The resident must pay all the costs, obtain any required permits and follow applicable laws and regulations associated with installing the charging equipment.
Synopsis of Maryland HB 111
Providing that certain provisions of a recorded covenant or restriction, a declaration, or the bylaws or rules of a condominium or homeowners association are void and unenforceable if they prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation or use of electric vehicle recharging equipment; requiring certain owners of electric vehicle recharging equipment to be responsible for certain costs and disclosures; requiring a unit owner or lot owner to obtain certain permits or approval; etc.
The city of Rock Springs, Wyoming is proud of its rich multinational heritage. The main thoroughfare is lined with the flags of dozens of countries representing Rock Springs as the “Home of 56 Nationalities” due to the immigrants who came from all over the world to work in the local coal mines that fueled the Union Pacific Railroad locomotives.
The city installed two EV charging ports on their historic Main Street in August, 2019. We used them when we stopped in Rock Springs during a drive across the US on the old Lincoln Highway in September.
These are the first publicly available universal J1772 electric vehicle charging stations in Sweetwater County. Wyoming, being the least populous state in the union, has few EV charging stations. Rock Springs already hosted a Tesla Supercharger due to it being along the route of I-80 which runs across Wyoming. A hotel near the highway also has several Tesla destination charging stations.
Fee Free Charging
The city debated installing a commercial networked EV charging station that could collect a fee. But according to an article in the Rocket Miner, they would have had to spend $15,000 to do so. The city decided to spend $5,500 on material and labor to install two ClipperCreek Level 2 stations. This savings allow them to provide the electricity for free. The benefit for the city is that the charging stations will bring people downtown.
High’s Ice Cream was a memorable part of my childhood growing up in Virginia. My grandmother would drive us to the local store and we’d sit on the Naugahyde covered stools and order a special treat. My favorite flavor was Butter Brickle.
Now, it seems the old ice cream stores that I remember are gone but the High’s brand lives on as a convenience store chain complete with banks of gasoline pumps. A new High’s store just opened in Jessup, Maryland that portends yet another new direction for the 92 year old company.
Electron Filling Station
The Jessup store has DC fast chargers for filling electric cars with electrons. The two chargers are installed next to the automatic car wash across the parking lot from the row of gas pumps.
Virginia Senator Ghazala F. Hashmi wants to impose serious punishment against people who are guilty of “ICEing” an EV charging station. She has introduced an anti-ICEing bill (SB 911) that proposes a $500 penalty for violators in addition to being subject to being towed.
If Senator Hashmi’s bill is enacted without amendments, Virginia would have one on the harshest anti-ICEing laws in the United States. The bill has been referred to the Committee on Transportation and has a long way to go before the 2020 lawmaking session in Richmond ends on March 7th.
Difficulties Installing EV Charging Stations in Condos
Virginia Senator Scott A. Surovell of Mount Vernon has introduced a “Right to Charge” bill (SB 630) for the 2020 legislative session in Richmond.
The legislation would prohibit certain HOAs, condominiums and cooperatives from prohibiting the installation of an electric vehicle charging station in a resident’s designated parking space. The bill sets certain provisions including requiring the EV owner to pay for the electricity plus the cost of the installation and removal of the charging stations.
Senator Surovell says, “The transportation sector has now passed electricity production as the largest carbon emitter in the United States.”
Need to Facilitate EV Ownership
An EV driver himself, Surovell told PlugInSites, “We need to facilitate EV ownership and several people including constituents have reached out to me regarding difficulties encountered installing EV charging stations in condominiums. I’m hoping that my legislation will create a roadmap that facilitates the efficient deployment of charging stations in homeowners associations, condominiums and cooperatives.”
Virginia Delegate David Reid of Loudoun County is proposing a rebate for Virginians who buy or lease an electric vehicle. The legislation will be formally introduced when the Virginia General Assembly convenes on Wednesday, January 8 in Richmond.
Used Vehicles Would Qualify
HB 717 proposes that an individual who buys or leases a new or used electric vehicle from a dealer in Virginia and registers the vehicle in Virginia would be eligible for a rebate. The MSRP for new vehicles and the Kelly Blue Book value for used, must not exceed $50,000 in order to qualify for a rebate.
Electric vehicles that get 200 or more miles of range would qualify for a $2,000 rebate for new and $1,000 for a used vehicle. A vehicle that gets between 120 and 200 miles qualifies for $1,500 for new and $750 for used. Vehicles that get less than 120 miles per charge qualify for $400 for a new vehicle and $200 for used.