Hydrogen Fuel Cells, EV Tax Credit & Electric School Bus Bills Advanced
The 90-day Maryland lawmaking session adjourned yesterday at midnight. PlugInSites has been tracking over a dozen electric vehicle related bills in Annapolis since the General Assembly convened in January. Three of them managed to pass both chambers and are headed to Governor Hogan to sign.
The Clean Cars Act of 2019, HB 1246, was a collaboration between Governor Hogan’s Administration and Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo. It will expand the state’s efforts to support Zero Emission Vehicles to include Hydrogen Fuel Cell cars. The role of Maryland’s Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council (EVIC) will begin to include promoting the utilization of fuel cell electric vehicles as well as plug-ins. The council will be renamed the Maryland Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Council (ZEEVIC).
Two new council members will be added including a representative of manufacturers of fuel cell electric vehicles and a representative of manufacturers of fuel cell electric vehicle infrastructure equipment.
An amendment proffered by the Chair of the House Environment and Transportation Committee will ban the sale of hydrogen as motor fuel in Maryland if the hydrogen is produced by natural gas reforming. The concern is that this process produces carbon dioxide as a waste product. Hydrogen produced by electrolysis using electricity from renewable sources is considered a much cleaner alternative but is more expensive at this point. The ban would go into effect July 1, 2026.
The Clean Cars Act of 2019 will also change the formula used to determine the amount allowed for the state excise tax credit. Presently, the tax credit is based on the battery size and calculated as $100 times the number of kilowatt hours of battery capacity up to a maximum of $3,000. Under the new bill, the credit will simply be the entire amount of excise tax paid for the purchase of the vehicle up to $3,000. The maximum total vehicle purchase price to qualify will increase from $60,000 to $63,000 and certain fuel cell electric vehicles will now qualify. The funding for the tax credit program will be doubled from $3,000,000 to $6,000,000 per fiscal year. The end date for the program remains the same, June 30, 2020.
Zero Emission School Buses
A bill to help Maryland transition to Zero Emission School Buses passed and is headed to the Governor’s desk for signature. HB 1255 creates a fund to assist county boards of education in purchasing zero emission school buses and to install equipment for charging electric school buses. Funding will, in part, come from legal settlements earmarked for the transition to zero emission school buses.
HOV Lane Compliance with Federal Law
SB 70 was required to bring Maryland into alignment with federal law in regard to HOV lane use by hybrid vehicles. It simply repealed the authorization for qualified hybrid vehicles to use the HOV lane along a portion of Route 50 between the I-495 beltway and Bowie after September 29, 2019. The state would have risked the loss of federal highway funding if not in compliance with the federal law after that date. The original name of this bill indicated that it was concerning plug-in electric drive as well as hybrid vehicles. However, only the hybrid vehicles are affected after amendments.
HOA/Condo “Right to Charge”
A bill that did not quite make it to the finish line was HB 826, a “Right to Charge” bill for residents of HOA and Condo developments. The Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment for Multifamily Units Act was sponsored by Delegate Marc Korman. It passed the House (130-10) and was sent over to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee where it never received a vote. HB 826 was more successful than similar bills that were proposed in previous years. The multi-unit housing organizations that had been opposed in the past, now supported the legislation after working with the sponsor on amendments. Perhaps this legislation will pass both chambers next year.
Bills that Didn’t Advance
A number of bills didn’t get off the ground. Anti-ICEing bill SB 316 and “EV-Ready” bill SB 987 to require pre-wiring for charging at new construction both failed in committee. HB 72, a bill to retroactively reimburse buyers who purchased during the gap in funding for the EV tax credit program in fiscal year 2017 was withdrawn. A similar bill failed last year.
See details of all the Maryland bills at the PlugInSites Electric Vehicle Legislation Tracker.