Maryland Releases VW Mitigation Plan – $11.3 Million for EV Charging

SemaConnect Maple Lawn

Plan to be Submitted to Trustee

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.
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Electrify America Announces Partial Shutdown of Network

Electrify America Hagerstown

Potential Safety Concern With Cables

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.”
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2018 Virginia Energy Plan Recommends EV Infrastructure

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.
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Maryland Announces Draft Plan for VW Settlement Money

Maryland VW Settlement

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 …

Court Rules in Favor of SemaConnect in EV Charging Patent Case

SemaConnect HQ Bowie

ChargePoint Patent Claims Ruled Invalid – Judge Dismisses Complaint

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

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ChargePoint v. SemaConnect Lawsuit Moving Quickly

CP v SC Court Doc

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.
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ChargePoint v. SemaConnect Hearing on Dec. 22, 2017

Update in the ChargePoint v. SemaConnect Patent Case

There was a hearing today in the ChargePoint v. SemaConnect patent lawsuit in US District Court in Baltimore. I was able to attend the hearing, which was open to the public.

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.
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SemaConnect Fights Back in ChargePoint Lawsuit

SemaConnect ChargePro EVSE
SemaConnect is fighting back against a patent claim lawsuit brought by rival EV charging company, ChargePoint. A lawyer for the Maryland-based SemaConnect, Inc. sent a letter to U. S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis saying that ChargePoint’s Motion For Emergency Injunctive Relief should be summarily denied. A hearing on the Motion is scheduled in U. S. District Court in Baltimore on Friday, December 22, 2017.

In correspondence to the Judge, SemaConnect’s representative stated, “At its core, ChargePoint’s Motion is an obvious attempt to restrain free and fair competition by asserting baseless patent infringement claims against SemaConnect instead of competing fairly in the market.”

SemaConnect & ChargePoint Competed for Electrify America Contract

SemaConnect argued that granting the injunctive relief would harm the public’s interest because it would delay the deployment of hundreds of EV charging stations around the country that would help reduce carbon emissions. In the document, SemaConnect explained that in March 2017, Electrify America invited suppliers of EV charging stations to submit a request for proposal (RFP) for a contract to provide “community charging stations” to be financed under the $2 billion ZEV Investment Plan mandated by a settlement with Volkswagon. Companies including SemaConnect and ChargePoint, submitted RFPs for the contract. Electrify America ultimately chose three companies: SemaConnect, Greenlots, and EVConnect. However, ChargePoint was not selected and did not receive any funding.
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UPDATE: ChargePoint v. SemaConnect Lawsuit

ChargePoint, Inc. v SemaConnect, Inc. lawsuit
PlugInSites has obtained a copy of court documents that were filed in the ChargePoint, Inc. v SemaConnect, Inc. civil action in which ChargePoint alleges that SemaConnect is infringing on a number of patents related to EV charging networks.

ChargePoint is asking for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction barring SemaConnect from using the patents in dispute.

The lawsuit was filed by ChargePoint on Friday, December 15, 2017. Today, December 18, there are news reports that the Electrify America unit of Volkswagen plans to install 2,800 electric vehicle charging stations in U.S. cities by June 2019.

Electrify America is investing $2 billion over the next 10 years in the U.S. for Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure and education as part of a settlement reached in the VW diesel emissions case. The reports say that Electrify America has selected SemaConnect as well as EV Connect and Greenlots to install those charging stations.

In the Plaintiff’s Memorandum in Support of Emergency Injunctive Relief, ChargePoint stated:

SemaConnect is in the process of entering into contracts, to be completed within the next 90 days, to deploy at least $16 million in competing EV charging stations to customers free of charge, and provide services related to those stations free of charge for the next eight years. ChargePoint believes that the size of that free offer is equal to more than half of the total available market for those charging stations during the offer period. Participants in the offer will receive free charging stations, as well as free network services and support for a period of 8 years. SemaConnect is able to do this because Volkswagen Group of America (through its subsidiary, Electrify America) is subsidizing SemaConnect’s offerings as part of Volkswagen’s commitment to spend $2 billion on zero-emission vehicle (“ZEV”) infrastructure and technology under settlement terms Volkswagen agreed to in the aftermath of an emissions-rigging scandal in 2015. Importantly, SemaConnect’s EV charging systems are attractive to Electrify America because of the functionalities they provide. Unfortunately, many of those functionalities infringe the Asserted Patents.

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ChargePoint Sues SemaConnect Claiming Patent Infringement

Electric Vehicle charging equipment and service provider, ChargePoint of Campbell, California, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Maryland-based SemaConnect.

The complaint was filed in the District of Maryland Court on Friday, December 15, 2017. ChargePoint is seeking injunctive relief and monetary damages and has requested a jury trial.

The lawsuit alleges infringement of four patents held by ChargePoint in the area of networked electric vehicle charging.

In a press release, the company said, “ChargePoint invented networked EV charging and holds the patents related to the technology. A hallmark of the company’s technology portfolio, networked charging is a significant piece of ChargePoint’s offering and a critical ingredient to its business.”

ChargePoint claims to be the largest EV charging network in the world, reporting that they have over 43,000 independently owned charging spots.