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:
- Minimum of three DC Fast Chargers per site.
- At least three CCS connectors and one CHAdeMO.
- Deliver at least 150 kW per charger (except the CHAdeMO).
- Allow future upgrade to at least 350 kW.
- Chargers must require payment from users.
- Remain operable and accessible 24/7, year round.
- Have adequate lighting for all weather conditions.
- User interface must be legible in daylight and at night.
- Pricing must be displayed either on the unit or a mobile app.
- Be within a quarter mile of restrooms and a service establishment.
The grantee is also responsible for “prompt maintenance and repair” although specifics on that are not detailed. I have expressed concerns in the past over the reliability and repair times of publicly-funded charging stations. See: Advocating for EV Charger Reliability at the Maryland PSC.
Maryland Charge Ahead Grant Program
The Maryland Charge Ahead Grant Program (CAGP) proposal is designed to locate Level 2 charging stations at workplaces and State facilities. Other than the home, the workplace is the next most popular place to charge an EV.
The CAGP is also a cost share program with the proposed grant covering up to 60% of the cost to purchase and install Level 2 charging up to $6,000 per charging station. Dual-head units are considered one charging station for the purposes of the grant program. Non-profits, private employers and local, state and federal agencies would be eligible to apply with certain restrictions.
Both networked and non-networked charging stations would be eligible under the proposal. Each plug must deliver at least 7.2 kW continuous. The workplace charging stations are not required to be accessible to the public but the employer has that option within certain guidelines.
One of the project requirements is that signage is required to identify that parking is reserved for electric vehicles only. The signs must comply with all applicable local, state, and/or federal laws, ordinances, regulations, and standards. See: Regulatory Signs for EV Charging and Parking Facilities.
The full text of the proposed plans and information on how to comment is available at: Maryland Volkswagen Mitigation Plan.
MDE is accepting comments on the two proposed frameworks until close of business on October 12th, 2020.