Washington, DC is moving forward with legislation to require “make-ready” infrastructure for the future installation of electric vehicle charging equipment in new and renovated commercial buildings and multi-unit dwellings.
The DC Council voted unanimously this week to approve B23-0193, the Electric Vehicle Readiness Amendment Act of 2019. The bill still faces a final vote before it is sent to Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The bill states that “all new construction or substantial improvement of commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings that have 3 or more off-road automobile parking spaces shall include electric vehicle make-ready infrastructure to accommodate the future installation of an electric vehicle charging site at at least 20% of the parking spaces.”
I had a bad experience at an Electrify America charging station yesterday. There were six dispensers. One was in use, five were available. Unfortunately, none of the available dispensers had the CHAdeMO port I needed.
The only dispenser with a CHAdeMO port was already in use by an Audi etron plugged in to the CCS side of the only CHAdeMO/CCS dispenser.
The Electrify America charging site in Columbia, Maryland has reopened after being closed for six weeks to replace the hardware.
New Equipment is Supposed to be More Reliable
On Monday September 28, 2020, workers showed up to begin a pre-announced equipment upgrade. They put up a chain link fence which remained in place until Wednesday November 11th. New ABB chargers are now in the same configuration as another brand they replaced. Two dispensers have a maximum output of 350 kW and the rest are 150 kW. The cables on the new units are more flexible and a little bit longer than before.
A member of the Greenbelt, Maryland City Council proposed to waive the fee to use the DC Fast Charger by the Municipal Building in the Roosevelt Center at 25 Crescent Rd.
Mayor Pro Tem Emmett Jordan had recently received an email from staff informing the Council Members that the charging station, which had been broken for an extended period, was now fixed. Mr. Jordan realized that the charging station presented an opportunity to draw people into the Roosevelt Center to patronize the businesses that are feeling the economic impact of the current pandemic.
“If you look at the businesses in Roosevelt Center right now, they’re struggling. They’re having a really, really hard time.” Mr. Jordan said during last night’s City Council meeting. “I’d like to go ahead and waive the fees while the emergency is in place. Anything we can do to attract more people into Roosevelt Center, we need to do.”
The charger, which opened in August, 2017, was initially free to use. The City Council decided to initiate a fee which started in January, 2019. At the time, the Council felt that the free charging was being abused by commercial drivers and people who lived outside of Greenbelt. After the fee was implemented, usage fell precipitously. According to data obtained from the Maryland Energy Administration, there were only 27 charging sessions at the Greenbelt charger in the three months between April 1 and June 30, 2020. That was down from 1182 sessions in the same calendar period in 2018.
Data to Guide Decision
In the discussion with his colleagues to convince them to vote to approve his proposal, Mr. Jordan noted, “If you look at surrounding municipalities – Hyattsville, Laurel – there are plenty of places where people can go to charge their cars now and that wasn’t the case maybe three years ago.”
A new Royal Farms store opening soon in the Violetville neighborhood in Southwest Baltimore will have five V3 Tesla Supercharger stalls. The new location is at 1202 S Caton Ave., Baltimore, MD. This is just off I-95 Exit 50B.
This Tesla Supercharger location is about eight miles from the Boston Street Supercharger that opened a couple weeks ago in the Canton neighborhood. The first Baltimore Tesla Supercharger opened in McHenry Row on October 23, 2018.
Other Local Superchargers That Opened in 2020
Listed below are the sites that have opened in the Washington, DC and Baltimore area so far this year.
Ashburn, VA 8 stalls, 250 kW at Harris Teeter (February)
Washington, DC – Wisconsin Ave NW– 8 stalls, 72 kW at Safeway (March)
Easton, MD 8 stalls, 250 kW at Royal Farms (May)
Reston, VA 8 stalls, 250 kW at Reston Station (June)
White Marsh, MD 8 stalls, 250 kW at Royal Farms (June)
Chantilly, VA 8 stalls, 250 kW at Royal Farms (July)
Vienna, VA 8 stalls, 250 kW at Wawa (July)
Baltimore, MD – Boston Street – 12 stalls, 250 kW at Harris Teeter (October)
Promotes Uniformity Among Signs at EV Charging Stations
Spaces in front of EV charging stations are not parking spots, they are for electric vehicles while being refueled. Official signs that meet federal and state standards are the best way to communicate this message.
At the dawn of the automobile age, directional road signs were mostly an endeavor by private groups such as the AAA and other automobile clubs. Signs were used by these groups for promotion and branding as much as they were for directions and information. This led to a hodgepodge of directional signage along the roadways. In the 1920s, government began to develop signage standards. The familiar octagonal stop sign, for instance, grew out of those efforts.
Today, we are seeing a similar trend in signs placed at electric vehicle charging stations. Charging station operators often have distinct and different signs. Some seem designed with a priority for branding and style over clarity and uniformity. This leads to ambiguous messaging and more blocked charging stations.
Federal Standards for Parking Signs
Standards for size, shape, color, etc. for signs placed on roadways and parking lots are defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) issued by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). By law, all traffic control devices must conform to these standards.
The FHWA issued a Policy Statement on June 17, 2013 to address regulatory sign standards for electric vehicle charging and parking facilities. The document contains recommended signs with word legends to convey parking restrictions at EV charging stations. Howard County chose to use the R7-113 example provided by the FHWA to post at 31 utility-operated charging stations located at five county-owned sites. These “no parking except while charging” regulatory signs replaced green and white signs with “electric vehicle parking only” and a logo depicting a car with a plug.
Two Fast Chargers have been added to the existing Level 2 charging stations in the Municipal parking lot in Mount Airy, Maryland.
The Town of Mount Airy first installed EV charging stations when a local resident suggested they could encourage more visitors to stop and spend time visiting the shops and restaurants of the historic downtown. Mayor Pat Rockinberg, who happened to drive an electric car, liked the idea and the Town Council agreed.
The Level 2 stations were free to encourage “EV Tourism” so visitors to Mt. Airy could plug in while they “stop, shop and stroll” the downtown area. About a year ago, the town added two Tesla charging stations in the Municipal Lot next to the Schneider Level 2. This summer, another pair of Tesla charging stations were installed in nearby Watkins Park.
The new Mount Airy Fast Chargers are placed in the original spots for the Level 2 station. It’s unclear if the Level 2 station will remain, be taken out or moved.
Enjoy your visit to Mt. Airy and tell them that the charging stations helped you decide to come there. Also encourage other communities to install EV charging to attract visitors.
To Distribute $11.3 Million in VW Settlement Funds
The Maryland Department of Environment, in coordination with the Maryland Energy Administration, has developed frameworks for proposals on two grant programs to distribute $11.3 million of the state’s Volkswagen Mitigation Plan funding to help install electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Will this finally lead to our promised DC Fast Charging in Western Maryland?
Maryland Electric Corridors Grant Program
The proposed Maryland Electric Corridors Grant Program (ECGP) will help fund the placement of DC Fast Charging stations to be located along Federal Highway Administration designated Alternative Fuel Corridors. The electric charging Alternative Fuel Corridors include I-68/I-70 in Western Maryland and US Routes 50 and 301 on the Eastern shore. Grant awardees will get up to 60% of the cost to install DCFC stations that conform to the ECGP guidelines.
The ECGP grant guidelines are similar, but not exactly the same, as previous MEA administered grant programs to fund DC Fast Chargers. The Maryland electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program (eVIP) initially distributed $1 million to seed private investment in the build-out of a statewide fast charging network. The eVIP program was supposed to cover every corner of the state when then Attorney General Doug Gansler announced it in April, 2014. It helped to fund early DCFC installations at Royal Farms stores as well as chargers installed by EVgo and others.
The eVIP initiative was later expanded to include funding for other alternative fueling infrastructure and renamed the Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Program or AFIP. The guidelines for AFIP have been tweaked in recent years to include improvements that benefit EV drivers such as requiring at least two chargers per location to ensure redundancy.
Guidelines in the newly proposed ECGP framework include:
A new Tesla Supercharger and an Electrify America site both opened in Maryland around the same time 10 months ago. This presents an interesting opportunity to compare the energy used at the two sites.
The Hanover Supercharger opened around November 11, 2019. It consists of eight stalls on the third level of the parking garage at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve. The maximum power to each stall is 72 kW. As of September 9, 2020, the meter is at 387.4 MWh.
BGE and the City of Baltimore are nearing an agreement to allow BGE-owned public charging stations to be installed at certain locations within the City. The Baltimore City Council introduced a bill this week that would grant a franchise to BGE to install and operate public charging stations on City rights-of-way and at certain park properties.
According to the 1st Reader text of Council Bill 20-0573 (copied below), the City would grant BGE a right to “install, operate, maintain, repair, replace, and remove electric vehicle charging stations at City-approved locations on City right-of-way and on Park Properties.” The initial term of the franchise is proposed to be one year with an automatic annual renewal for 25 years total.
Section 4 of the bill suggests that BGE shall pay Baltimore an unspecified franchise charge each year. The franchise charge can increase or decrease and the franchise can be cancelled by either party at the end of the initial or any renewal term.
The Maryland PSC Order No. 88997, issued on January 14, 2019, requires that utility-owned and operated charging stations must be located on property owned or controlled by state, county, or local governments.
Baltimore City Council assigned this bill to the Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.