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:
Federal Appeals Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of SemaConnect
Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld the decision of a lower court in a dispute over an EV charging patent case brought by electric vehicle charging company ChargePoint, Inc. of Campbell, CA against a competitor, SemaConnect, Inc. of Bowie, MD.
Just over one year ago, Judge Marvin J. Garbis, of the U. S. District Court in Baltimore dismissed a lawsuit brought by ChargePoint that alleged that SemaConnect had infringed four patents in the area of networked electric vehicle charging stations. The lower court judge found all of the patent claims asserted by ChargePoint were invalid.
The judge had agreed with SemaConnect’s defense that the patents were invalid because the claims were drawn to an abstract idea, and the method of implementing those claims was not enough to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) released its Volkswagen Mitigation Plan yesterday (PDF). The plan details spending of $75.7 million that the state is eligible to receive under a settlement agreement with Volkswagen.
A draft plan for the VW settlement money was released by MDE on August 1, 2018. Public comments were solicited for the next 30 days and two listening sessions were held including one at MDE headquarters in Baltimore on August 20, 2018. Feedback received during the 30 day public comment period is said to be incorporated into this version.
The Plan will now be submitted to the Trustee overseeing the Volkswagen Mitigation Settlement funds.
Full Allowable 15% Going to EV Charging Infrastructure
The Settlement Agreement limits the amount of funds that can be used for Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure investment to 15% of the total funds allocated to the state. Maryland plans to use the allowed maximum, or about $11.3 million, to deploy EV charging infrastructure. Read More …
Electrify America tonight announced that the company is voluntarily shutting down the majority of their fast chargers at the recommendation of a supplier of high-powered charging cables used in their equipment. The company said that the 150 kW – 350 kW chargers that are equipped with HUBER+SUHNER supplied liquid-cooled cables are being disabled while a potential safety issue is investigated.
Giovanni Palazzo, president and CEO of Electrify America said, “The safety of our customers is our highest priority. Out of an abundance of caution, Electrify America is shutting down all of our stations that use the HUBER+SUHNER high-powered cables until we can confirm that they can be operated safely. We are confident that HUBER+SUHNER will investigate and resolve this issue as quickly as possible.” Read More …
The Commonwealth of Virginia has released their 2018 Energy Plan [PDF] which includes recommendations for electric vehicles and advanced transportation.
The report notes that there are approximately 11,000 Plug-in Electric Vehicles registered in Virginia. This is about 0.14 percent of all passenger vehicles in the state. There are 62 public DC fast-charging locations that are concentrated in different areas of the state.
The report says that the lack of an accessible statewide DC fast-charging network is a major barrier to the growth of the EV market because it “restricts drivers’ ability to take longer trips and limits the utility and attractiveness of EVs, especially for any household without the ability to charge at home.”
Virginia was designated a beneficiary in the Volkswagen Diesel Emission Mitigation Settlement and the report shares that some funds from the settlement were used to award a contract to EVgo to create a public charging network to complement existing charging infrastructure. The priority will be to support high-speed DC fast charging located along heavily traveled corridors and metro areas across the state. Level 2 charging stations will also be installed statewide. Read More …
Draft Plan Includes Approximately $11.3 Million for Maryland EV Charging Infrastructure
Update: Listening Session Scheduled
A listening session has been scheduled for the VW Settlement Mitigation Plan for August 20, 2018 from 10:00 AM to noon at the Maryland Department of the Environment, at 1800 Washington Blvd, Baltimore. Full details here.
Maryland officials released a draft mitigation plan for spending $75.7 million from a settlement reached with Volkswagen over an emissions testing “defeat devices” case that proposes to fund measures to help improve air quality including replacing older diesel engine powered equipment and installing electric vehicle charging stations.
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) along with the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) developed the Draft Plan that must be submitted to the Trustee overseeing the mitigation funds once the 30 day public comment period is over and Maryland finalizes the Draft Plan.
The Settlement Agreement limits the amount of funds that can be used for Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure investment to 15% of the total funds allocated to the state. Maryland intends to utilize the allowed maximum of 15% of Volkswagen Trust funds, or about $11.3 million, for the deployment of EV charging infrastructure.
The Draft Plan notes that MEA has awarded over $3.3 million toward installing 77 DC Fast Chargers at 46 locations, with matching grants that has leveraged more than $4.5 million in private funding of charging infrastructure in recent years. Read More …
Judge Marvin J. Garbis, of the U. S. District Court in Baltimore dismissed a lawsuit brought by ChargePoint, Inc. of Campbell, CA against SemaConnect, Inc. of Bowie, MD.
ChargePoint had alleged infringement of four patents held by the company in the area of networked electric vehicle charging in a lawsuit filed in Baltimore on December 15, 2017.
SemaConnect defended themselves against the suit by filing a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim arguing that the patents asserted by ChargePoint were invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 as established by the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International in which patents were ruled as invalid because the claims were drawn to an abstract idea, and the method of implementing those claims was not enough to transform the abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention.
SemaConnect & ChargePoint Competed for Electrify America Contract
A federal judge in Baltimore has formally denied a request from ChargePoint for a temporary restraining order that would have prevented a competing EV charging company, SemaConnect, from selling equipment while a patent infringement claim is pursued.
ChargePoint Emergency Request Denied
ChargePoint claims in court documents that SemaConnect is infringing on a number of U. S. patents that they own. At a hearing on December, 22, 2017, ChargePoint asked United States District Judge, Marvin J. Garbis, of the U. S. District Court in Baltimore for Emergency Injunctive Relief. They told the judge that “irreparable harm” was being caused by a contract SemaConnect won to install approximately 1,400 charging stations for VW subsidiary Electrify America.
In a written memorandum and order issued on Thursday, December 28, 2017, Judge Garbis wrote, “the Court shall DENY Plaintiff’s motion.”
The memorandum also said that the defendant, SemaConnect, will be allowed to file a motion to dismiss using the defense that the patents are invalid under the so-called “Alice test.” The judge stated that the motion to dismiss based on invalidity would be promptly resolved. If SemaConnect’s motion to dismiss is denied, Judge Garbis wrote that he intended to move the process quickly with a scheduling order for expedited discovery and trial. Read More …
ChargePoint’s legal counsel argued vigorously in support of their Motion for Emergency Injunctive Relief, asserting that “irreparable harm” was being caused by SemaConnect’s participation in the Electrify America program to install hundreds of charging stations that ChargePoint alleges infringes on patents that they hold.
The judge expressed concern that issuing an order for SemaConnect to stop would cause irreparable harm to SemaConnect. The judge also said he was concerned that by ordering SemaConnect to stop, the American public would be denied access to 1,440 EV charging stations that SemaConnect plans to install with Electrify America and that’s not in the public’s interest. Read More …