Advocating for EV Charger Reliability at the Maryland PSC

The Maryland Public Service Commission met this morning to approve an implementation of Electric Vehicle Charging Program Offerings by BGE, Pepco and Delmarva Power. Among other things, it will provide rebates for residential charging stations and sets the rate for utility-owned public charging stations at $0.18/kWh for Level 2 and $0.34/kWh for DC Fast Charging.

52-81% of US apartment dwellers with BEVs rely solely on public charging according to a Jan. 2019 report. Reliability is critical for these folks. I spoke to the Commissioners today to stress the need for better accountability for companies that use public or ratepayer funding to provide EV charging. [Link to YouTube Video]

Here’s a transcript of those remarks.

Joint Utilities Compliance Filing Regarding Implementation of Approved Electric Vehicle Charging Program Offerings. Case No. 9478.

My name is Lanny Hartmann. I drive an electric car. I appreciate the opportunity to make a few comments from an EV driver’s point of view.

I want to focus on one segment of people who drive battery-only electric cars and don’t have access to charging at home or at work and who rely solely on public EV charging.

The proposed flat rate of 34 cents per kWh [for DC fast charging] is in a range that I think is fair. I’d point out that the cost to use a Tesla Supercharger is only 28 cents per kWh. And Tesla delivers a very reliable service at that price.

Customers of utility-owned chargers need to have a high degree of confidence that they can rely on them. Otherwise, this pilot won’t succeed.

There was an article Saturday in the Carroll County Times about this EV charging program. There’s a quote from BGE about the maintenance of the chargers saying, “BGE is being held to the same reliability standards as our electric distribution system, so they must be operational at all times.”

I’d like to see the details of those reliability standards. I called here yesterday and talked to staff and I still don’t quite understand where I can find those.

The public deserves full transparency on reliability and I’ll tell you why.

MEA administers a grant program for fast chargers. EV drivers, including myself, began to experience a high number of failures at some of these stations. I looked at the quarterly reports that the grantees are required to submit and the percentage of uptime that they claimed just didn’t conform to what we were experiencing. In some cases, the report would claim 100% uptime at a charger that we had visited that clearly was broken. We brought this issue to the attention of MEA at an EVIC meeting and the response was that they can only rely on the good faith.

Just a couple weeks ago, I was at one of these fast chargers in Glen Burnie. The ChargePoint app said that it was available. When I got there, the screen had a message on it that said, “OUT OF SERVICE.” This is 100% uptime.

Maryland’s goal is 300,000 EVs by 2025. We’re asking people to stick their neck out and trust this new fueling system to help reach that goal. I’m here to ask that we ensure that the stations stay operational because the drivers who rely on public charging are paying a higher price and taking a bigger risk. We shouldn’t leave them stranded.