Bonnie Datta: Time for Md. to act on transportation electrification

Bonnie Datta

Bonnie Datta

Maryland is on the verge of a major clean, modern transportation revolution: the new Statewide Electric Vehicle Portfolio. The portfolio would enable electric utilities to make significant investments to support charging station installations, to educate customers on the benefits of electric vehicles (EVs), and to fund innovative projects that increase electric mobility in disadvantaged communities. But whether it turns into reality is now up to the Maryland Public Service Commission. Last week marked the start of hearings on the proposal, where the PSC will be gathering public comments.

Electrifying transportation in Maryland will bring a host of benefits to all residents. Drivers will be able to choose vehicles that are cheaper to operate and maintain than those that rely on gasoline. Going electric will reduce the use of fossil fuel and improve the air we breathe. And electric power customers will save money as utilities make more efficient use of the power grid.

But these benefits will remain hypothetical unless EV owners (who numbered 9,700 in the state in mid-2017) can recharge their vehicles when and where it’s convenient. In a recent survey by Altman Vilandrie & Co., 85 percent of respondents cited a lack of charging stations as a reason they are not buying an electric vehicle. The Statewide Electric Vehicle Portfolio would boost the state’s charging infrastructure by 24,000 new stations, allowing Maryland’s EV drivers to easily power up where they live, work, and play.

Maryland has been a leader in embracing the potential of EVs. The Public Service Commission should seize this moment to build on the state’s EV leadership and approve a proposal supported by a wide variety of different groups, including General Motors, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, and Marylanders for Energy Democracy and Affordability.

The plan will maximize the benefits of the electrification transition; more EV charging can have the positive effect of lower electric rates for all consumers. A recent cost-benefit analysis by M.J. Bradley & Associates calculated that even non-EV owners would realize an average of $141 in benefits annually if Maryland is able to achieve its 300,000 electric vehicle goal by 2025.

With more than 550 employees at six locations in the state, clearly Siemens employees in the Old Line State could benefit from additional transportation options.

Every year, automakers introduce new EV models into the market across all vehicle classes. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that the average price of EVs will fall below that of conventional vehicles between 2025 and 2030. Many EVs today already out-compete their gasoline-powered counterparts on comfort, performance, and total cost of ownership.

The portfolio provides a road map for catapulting Maryland to the leading edge of the advanced vehicle revolution and driving benefits to all Marylanders.  It’s time for the Maryland Public Service Commission to approve the Statewide Electric Vehicle Portfolio and ensure that Maryland enjoys a clean, modern transportation future.

Bonnie Datta is senior director, Americas & Asia Pacific, regulatory affairs & market development, for Siemens.





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