To the Maryland Public Service Commission from an EV Driver

When the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) held a hearing to decide on allowing utilities to provide EV charging, many parties with a vested interest showed up. There were the charging network companies, the utility companies, automobile manufacturers, industry consultants, lobbyists and trade associations, local government officials and more.

What I did not see on the agenda was a list of individuals from the public. Regular citizens. EV drivers. People like us. So, I called and asked if I could come speak. They put me on the “Additional Advocates and Consumer Panel.” I wanted to look the Commissioners in the eye and speak from the heart of the challenges that we face when depending on public charging infrastructure. Here’s a transcript of those comments.

    Maryland PSC Case No. 9478 Hearing Sept 7, 2018, In the Matter of the Petition of the Electric Vehicle Work Group for Implementation of a Statewide Electric Vehicle Portfolio – Consumer Panel

My name is Lanny Hartmann, I live in Howard County, Maryland. I’ve been driving an electric car since April, 2012. My wife and I have two electric cars, we bought the first, which is an 80-mile all-electric battery-only car, and we also have a Tesla Model S that we’ve driven across the country, coast-to-coast, two times. We’ve driven that car to the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado and across Death Valley.

In those trips, we don’t know what range anxiety is. The Tesla private network is highly reliable and if a station happens to be out, it tells you right there on the screen, it will alert you, so that you can make preparations to skip over it.

Now, the question was asked, “has anybody ever pulled up to a station needing to charge and not been able to?” On these other stations that exist out there, unfortunately, the answer is yes.

I have a few stories to tell that I’m concerned about, because Tesla owners on their own private network are probably fine, but what you’re talking about installing here in Maryland is the network of CCS and CHAdeMO stations.

In January we were in Ocean City and there’s a fast charger at a convenience store out there. And we have an adapter where we can charge a Tesla on that. And we got there and there was a triangle on the screen that said “Out of Service.” OK, so we called customer service and they said, our computer says it is working, but we will reboot that station remotely. They did, and the triangle came back up again.

All right, we will just move on. But, at that time a person in a Nissan Leaf pulled up. I told him that I just got off the phone with customer service and this is broken. He said, oh no, I’m completely dead I don’t know what I’m going to do. As it was alluded to earlier, it’s a state of panic.

OK, where is the next nearest fast charger? Well, that’s 30 miles in Salisbury. So he had to sit there and twiddle his thumbs for two hours or so to get enough charge on the slow charger to make it there.

That had only had one charging station. Well, perhaps the solution to that is to put more than one, multiple. In White Marsh, they just built a station with six of these. Outside of California, that’s unusual. They are dual-port, CCS and CHAdeMO.

On September 5th… There is an app where people can report on the status of these stations and someone reported on September 5th, “This station has six chargers and all are down. I have been here three times in the last five days and one by one I watch them go out of service. Three times I called them to report the issues.”

I sent a friend up there and he checked it out himself and said yeah, sure enough, most of these are down.

There’s another network that is spending billions of dollars to build a nationwide network. They have a station in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I happened to be driving there Friday and I wanted to check it out. I pulled in. All the screens were dark. This station is in the middle of nowhere. You are in trouble if you arrive at that station and you need to charge.

Unfortunately, that’s a problem for EV drivers. And one thing that… I wanted to come here today so that you can understand this and hear this from an EV driver who has driven tens of thousands of miles, all-electric, is that the reliability, the maintenance and the rapid repair and the real-time reporting and accurate reporting. Because these stations, they have apps that say they are available, but you get there and they’re not.

That’s really going to be vital to take full advantage of this investment.