Howard County Police Add Electric Vehicles to Fleet

HoCoMD Police Electric Vehicle

Howard County, Maryland is adding hybrid and electric vehicles to their fleet as older vehicles are rotated out of service.

The County is assigning 111 Hybrid Ford Explorers to the Police and Sheriff’s Departments. More than one third of Howard County’s patrol fleet is now hybrid. This is said to be the largest number of hybrids in a patrol fleet by any jurisdiction in Maryland.

Howard County has also put five new Nissan Leafs into service, along with six all-electric Zero motorcycles.

In a video produced by the Howard County Government, the County’s Fleet Administrator demonstrates the new vehicles to Howard County Executive, Calvin Ball.

Fuel Savings

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Coast-to-Coast Group Tour in the First Supercharged Summer

Roseville, CA Supercharger

On July 12th, 2014, a group of Tesla enthusiasts embarked on a 3,605-mile journey from Delaware to California via the first coast-to-coast Supercharger route. That year was the first time in history that the coast-to-coast “Great American Road Trip” could easily be done in an electric car. Tesla had just completed building their first cross-continent Supercharging route and the TeslaRoadTrip “Supercharging Across America” group were eager to give it a go.

California or Bust!

The destination was the Tesla Motors Club TMC Connect conference in Monterey, California with a big outdoor picnic the night before the conference.

The convoy pulled out of the Newark, DE Supercharger with the cars covered in decals and headed across Maryland and Pennsylvania on the first day out. Other Teslas joined the group as they made their way across the USA. The daily destinations for the six-day trip were: Maumee, OH, Albert Lea, MN, Lusk, WY, Green River, UT, Barstow, and Roseville, CA.

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Annapolis $100 Fine and Towing Could Apply to Unsuspecting EV Drivers

Overreaching “Anti-ICEing” Ordinance Needs Revision

If you drive an electric car, I bet you try to do the right thing. You care about the environment and your actions reflect your values. You may have even stretched your budget to buy an eco-friendly electric vehicle.

Imagine this scenario: You decide to be more active in speaking up for the future of the planet. So you drive your EV to the state capital to testify in front of lawmakers. You find a garage with EV charging and plug in to a Level 2. You need an extra boost to get home. Or maybe you just want to show your support for the public charging infrastructure. After all, many charging spots are rarely used these days.

You arrive at the committee meeting room. The legislation that you came to support is on a fluid schedule. The Chair could call your name at any moment. You don’t dare miss your opportunity to address the legislators who could decide policy that could affect the environment for years to come.

The hearing runs long. It’s early evening when you finally return to the garage. As you approach your car you notice a paper on the windshield. It’s a parking citation. For a hundred bucks!

The ticket states a violation of Sec. 12.20.090.B – Parking Reserved for Plug-in Electric Drive Vehicles Actively Charging. $100.00 fine.

What? Actively charging?

Tell it to the judge.

It doesn’t matter why your car was not actively charging. Your battery may be full. The charging station may have suddenly quit unbeknownst to you. Or maybe someone wanted to “stick it to the environmentalists” and unplugged your car for spite. Is there a law against unplugging EVs?

You’re lucky though. Your car could’ve been towed in addition to getting the ticket. How do you feel now?

First, Do No Harm

The scenario above is not far fetched. The City of Annapolis passed an anti-ICEing ordinance last year that could punish EV drivers who are not “actively charging.” The same $100 fine and/or towing penalty imposed on a diesel truck driver blocking a charging space could apply to an innocent electric car driver who’s simply trying to do the right thing by driving a zero emission vehicle.

EV drivers are getting punished more than you might think. Green Car Reports published an article that showed that in Montgomery County, MD, more electric vehicles got tickets for parking in charging spaces than ICE vehicles did. Ref: Illegal Parking in charging spots: The culprit? Electric cars

A few weeks ago I testified via Skype at the Annapolis City Council Meeting. I asked the Mayor and City Council to refine the ordinance to give some leeway for EVs and focus on the non-electric vehicles that are the main problem. I also pointed out that almost a year after the ordinance went into effect that there are still no signs and pavement markings required for enforcement. [testimony video] I submitted written comments explaining the issues in more detail.

The next day, I received an email from the Deputy City Manager who promised to work with City staff to get signs posted and get the spaces marked. However, they didn’t address the concern of the “actively charging” language in the current ordinance.

Yesterday, I submitted comments to the Annapolis Transportation Board, who I understand is a body that can make recommendations to the City Council. I asked the Board to consider making a recommendation to amend the ordinance to focus on penalizing cars that run on gasoline or diesel that are blocking the charging spots.

I suggested that signs could state the spots are for EV charging only but the law shouldn’t penalize them the moment they stop charging. I presented an example of someone charging their car overnight at a hotel. Are they expected to run out at 2:00 AM as soon as the battery is full in order to avoid a violation? My full comments to the Transportation Board and links to the discussion on the original bill are below.

Links to Discussion on Annapolis Anti-ICEing Ordinance O-14-20

Reference:
Annapolis City Ordinance 14-20 Details
Public Safety Committee meeting on 7/6/2020 Video
Transportation Committee meeting on 7/9/2020 Video
Annapolis City Council meeting on 7/13/2020 Video 
Transportation Board meeting on 7/20/2020  Video

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Bealeton, VA Supercharger Under Construction

Bealeton Supercharger

Bealeton Supercharger Coming to Sheetz on Rt. 29

Tesla continues its ambitious expansion of their exclusive fast charging network in the greater Washington, DC area. The latest site to begin construction is at a Sheetz convenience store on US Route 29 about seven miles south of Warrenton, VA at the intersection with Route 17. Locals call this area Opal, but the Tesla “Find Us” map refers to a Supercharger planned for Bealeton, VA with a target opening date in Q3, 2021.

The construction is happening behind the Sheetz at 10101 James Madison Hwy, Bealeton, VA 22712 [map link]. There are two V3 (250 kW max) Supercharging cabinets on site and prefabricated bases for eight stalls.

This will be an especially convenient stop for Tesla travelers who are heading north as the Sheetz is on the east side of the highway. Southbound travelers have to contend with a traffic light to cross the north-bound lanes into the Sheetz. This Supercharger location is closer to the direct route than Haymarket for folks heading to and from DC.

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EVgo Adds Tesla Plugs to DMV Area Fast Chargers

EVgo has added Tesla connectors at many EVgo charging sites in DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Based on CHAdeMO Adapter Principle

Tesla drivers enjoy access to a vast network of Superchargers that enable them to travel long distances. Superchargers in urban areas also serve drivers that do not have access to charging at home or work. According to data from supercharge.info, there are more than 1,000 Supercharger stations currently open in the United States.

About six years ago, Tesla developed a CHAdeMO adapter and offered it for sale. The adapter, which now costs $450, was very useful in the earlier days of long distance EV travel before the Supercharger network filled out in all areas of the country. The maximum charging speed using the adapter is no more than 50 kW.

In the past six years, we’ve used the CHAdeMO adapter in parts of New England, Tidewater Virginia, Nebraska, “the Loneliest Road in America” in Nevada and elsewhere.

A very small percentage of Tesla drivers have the CHAdeMO adapter. Certainly less than 5%. This means that the thousands of DC Fast Chargers are not normally accessible to Tesla drivers. This is unfortunate because an overwhelming majority of all-electric cars sold to date are made by Tesla. This has created a situation where Tesla Superchargers have high utilization while CCS/CHAdeMO fast chargers in the same area — often built with public funding — get relatively little use. [See: Tesla vs Electrify America Usage]

Some EVgo Chargers Can Now Work with Teslas

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PA Turnpike Tesla Superchargers

Somerset, PA – North Service Plaza Supercharger

Somerset, PA - North Service Plaza Supercharger
Somerset, PA – North Service Plaza Supercharger

Tesla Superchargers are being installed at service plazas on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Vera and I just completed a 2½-week, 8,735-mile electric road trip through 26 states, stopping at dozens of EV charging stations along the way. The latter part of our trip included two sections of the PA Turnpike. New Superchargers have just opened at several Turnpike Service Plazas and they’re a real convenience for folks traveling the Turnpike in a Tesla.

The Somerset, PA – North Service Plaza Supercharger opened on May 24, 2021. It has eight stalls that can deliver up to 250 kW (V3). The Supercharger station is located in a section of the car parking area that’s relatively far from the service plaza building. Signs on half the stalls reserved the spots for Tesla vehicle charging only, the other four spaces are designated to allow 30 minutes general parking.

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Maryland Clean Cars Act of 2021 Becomes Law

Maryland Capitol Annapolis

Will Fund Backlog of EV Tax Credit Applications

On May 28, 2021, Governor Hogan announced that he would allow a number of bills to become law without his signature. One of the bills on the list was HB 44, The Clean Cars Act of 2021, which authorizes the state’s EV tax credit funding.

PlugInSites followed the progress of electric vehicle legislation in the Maryland General Assembly this year. About half of the EV-related bills passed. In order to become law, they have to be approved by the Governor. The Governor can either sign the bill or let the bill become law without a signature, simply by not vetoing it.

The Maryland Electric Vehicle Tax Credit

The Clean Cars Act of 2021, as introduced, was to extend the state excise tax credit for Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) for two more years. It also was to fund the backlog of applications from EV purchasers who are on the waitlist from the prior EV tax credit program.

The part of the bill that was to extend the EV excise tax credit was removed because of concern over a provision in the federal COVID-19 relief act that prohibits states from using any of the $195 billion of federal aid “to either directly or indirectly offset a reduction” in net tax revenue.

The bill passed with funding to satisfy the backlog of applicants. This is welcome news for the thousands of Maryland residents who have been waiting on their checks of up to $3,000. Some have been waiting for several years.

The law will extend the EV charging equipment rebate as well as increase the annual funding for that program. The Electric Vehicle Recharging Equipment Rebate Program will be extended for two more years and the funding will increase from $1.2M to $1.8M annually.

For official information about the Maryland Excise Tax Credit for Plug-in Electric Vehicles, visit the MVA Website.

Legislation Tracker

Follow the progress of EV related legislation at the PlugInSites Electric Vehicle Legislation Tracker.

Tesla Supercharger Wait Displayed on Navigation Screen

Headed to a busy Supercharger on this busy Memorial Day travel weekend? Now you can see the estimated length of time you can expect to wait at a full Supercharger station on the Tesla Navigation screen.

Tesla has been showing the number of stalls currently available on the Nav screen for a few years. Now, if a Supercharger is full, drivers are shown a grey clock icon on the pin. When you touch the pin it will display short, medium or long wait for that location.

I first observed this today at the original Somerset, PA Supercharger. First it was a “Short wait” then a little while later it was a “Medium wait” and within a half hour, stalls were available again.

Keep an eye out for this helpful new feature. Happy and safe travels.

Annapolis Anti-ICEing Ordinance Needs Refinement and Official Signs

Pip Moyer EV Charging Station ICEed by Truck

Signs Not Compliant

The City of Annapolis has an “anti-ICEing” ordinance that requires special signs and green pavement markings in order to be enforced. There continues to be complaints of gas vehicles blocking EV charging stations in the city especially at Pip Moyer Recreation Center where BGE installed a Level 2 station in 2019. The signs there do not comply with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) nor with the requirements of the city code.

Could Punish Innocent EV Drivers

The Annapolis anti-ICEing ordinance could potentially punish EV drivers who are not “actively charging” through no fault of their own. If the equipment fails mid charge or someone unplugs your car or you just misjudge the length of time your car needs to charge, Annapolis seems to apply the same $100 penalty for an electric vehicle that may unintentionally not be charging as for a gas guzzling SUV driver that ignores the sign. I am attempting to have the City Council reconsider this and clarify the code and fine schedule. I spoke to the Mayor and City Council via Skype at the May 24, 2021 meeting and submitted the written comments below.

Talking to Annapolis City Council via Skype

Formal Written Comments Delivered to Annapolis City Council on May 24, 2021

Last year the Annapolis City Council passed an ordinance (Code: 12.20.090.B) meant to keep people from blocking electric vehicle charging stations.

In order to be enforced, the EV charging spaces must be designated with signs and pavement markings with the following requirements:

1. Be at least eighteen inches high and twelve inches wide;

2. Be clearly visible to the driver of a motor vehicle entering the plug-in electric drive vehicle charging space;

3. State the maximum fine that may be incurred for a violation; and

4.Meet any applicable state and federal requirements for parking signs. A plug-in electric drive vehicle charging space shall also be indicated by green pavement markings.

I would like to bring to the council’s attention that EV charging stations on City-owned property, including the Pip Moyer Rec. Center, do not have signs that meet these requirements. This consequently means that the ordinance is unenforceable. I’ve seen gas pickup trucks and other non-electric vehicles blocking the charging station at Pip Moyer recently.

But more importantly, the Annapolis ordinance and penalty provisions could unintentionally punish EV drivers who may not be “actively charging” through no fault of their own.

The penalties in the FY 2021 Fines Schedule by Authority: R-27-20 is listed as follows:

Code Reference: 12.20.090.B. Description: Parking reserved for plug-in electric drive vehicles actively charging. Fine for Initial Offense: $100.00. Fine for Repeat or Continuous Violations: $100.00

I respectfully ask the Council to consider refining the language to focus this legislation exclusively on penalizing cars that run on gasoline or diesel that have no reason to be parking in an electric vehicle charging spot.

The wording, “electric drive vehicles actively charging” does not appear in the ordinance itself and there are occasions that an electric vehicle may have just finished charging or the equipment fails or someone unplugs a car that could lead to an electric car driver getting unfairly punished for trying to do the right thing by driving electric.

Thank you. Lanny Hartmann

Tip: How to Start a Session with an RFID Card

Greenlots RFID Card

Method to Attempt if Charging Station is Offline

Sometimes a public EV charging station will have power but it is not communicating with the service provider’s network. This could prevent you from being able to initiate a charge using the mobile app associated with that network. If the station is offline, then the signal to authorize a session may not be able to reach the unit from the charging service provider.

For example, the screen image above is a message on the Greenlots app that displayed when I tapped the “Start Charge” button for a Pepco owned and operated station that was showing as “offline” in the Greenlots app.

When this happens, you can call call customer support and see if they can help. Sometimes they are able to reach the station and either reset it or help you initiate a charge from their end.

When all else fails, it is worth trying to use an RFID card instead of the app. Sometimes the card will be successful in starting the charging session even if the unit appears to be offline.

You may need to order an RFID card from the various charging networks in order to be prepared for this contingency. In some cases, there may be a small fee for the card.

Hope this tip is useful. Enjoy your travels and happy charging!

See Also:
CHAdeMO Connector Instruction Video
Tip: Beware of Buggy Charging Stations
Tip: Be Kind, Rewind – Hang Up the Charging Cable