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Maryland aims to speed up electrified transportation future

Maryland aims to speed up electrified transportation future

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Charging Station
A Chevy Volt is showing at a charging station. (Photo courtesy BGE)

The world is in the midst of a massive shift to more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly transportation across the board.

From public buses and trucks to cars and even e-bikes, the largest auto manufacturers around the world are scrambling to come out on top of the race to electrify transportation. Governments have also stepped in to provide incentives and the infrastructure needed to carry out this vision on a practical scale.

Maryland aims to register 300,000 electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025. The state currently has more than 25,000 registered electric and hybrid vehicles, up from 6,299 sold in 2018, according to the Motor Vehicle Administration.

Gov. Larry Hogan recently announced Maryland would join 14 other states in their goal to reduce emissions from trucks and buses to zero by 2050. Across the country, trucks and buses make up about 25% of transportation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Part of Maryland’s plan will involve taking a cleaner approach to trucking.

The state’s $3,000 EV tax credit for plug-in electric cars that lasted from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2020, was so popular the allocated funds often ran dry early. The $6 million allotted for fiscal 2020 was claimed before the fiscal year even started. Lawmakers are pondering whether to extend the program.

Meanwhile, businesses across the state are setting up a network of charging stations to encourage the transition to EVs.

Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) and Pepco created the EVsmart program in 2019 to educate customers and promote EV adoption, including the need for more charging stations throughout the state.

A report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found Maryland will need about 27,000 nonresidential Level 2 plugs, which use a higher voltage and are suitable for charging a car while parked, and 1,000 Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) plugs, which can quickly add electricity to a battery during a brief stop, to support the rising demand for EV charging.

BGE is setting up a new public charging network that includes 500 chargers throughout the company’s service area. Government facilities, including libraries, parks and community colleges, have already claimed more than 200 of these. Sixty-one are currently installed, allowing for 109 charging ports. Pepco’s plans call for a network of 250 public chargers in its service area.

Drivers can get access to the new charging stations through the Greenlots mobile app. They’ll pay 18 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to charge at a Level 2 station or 34 cents per kWh at the company’s DCFC stations.

An electric vehicle charges Aug. 23, 2019 in the Park Charles Garage in Baltimore. (The Daily Record / Jason Whong)
An electric vehicle charges Aug. 23, 2019 in the Park Charles Garage in Baltimore. (The Daily Record / Jason Whong)

Studies show most EV drivers do the majority of their charging at home. But they also want the peace of mind to know public chargers are available, said BGE spokeswoman Linda Foy.

“BGE is working to address both of those concerns by offering rebates on home charging and installing BGE-owned public infrastructure throughout our service area,” she said.

National charging network EVgo has set up 18 fast-charging locations in Maryland and is expanding across the state. The company takes advantage of state programs created to accelerate private investment like those administered by the Maryland Energy Administration.

Charging company Blink receives daily purchase orders for EV charging stations across the country and has seen a recent uptick in inquiries from the mid-Atlantic region, said Rebecca Gutierrez, vice president of marketing for the company.

Blink has been awarded a grant through the Mid-Atlantic Electrification Partnership to deploy 220 Blink 19.2 kW advanced Level 2 charging stations in Virginia, Maryland, Washington and West Virginia. The project will begin in October and is expected to last three years.

Gutierrez said the ideal locations for its Level 2 chargers include multifamily residences, workplaces, municipal locations, parking facilities and privately owned businesses that are centrally located.

ChargePoint has more than 850 charging locations on its network in Maryland, according to Darryll Harrison, senior director, global communications & social media. The company has been partnering with the Maryland Energy Administration to set up charging locations at several Royal Farms, among other local businesses.

Harrison said developers and other decision-makers have shown increasing interest in residential and multifamily charging stations as the pandemic has led to many people working from home. Highway charging stations are popular, and delivery companies and motor pools are ramping up their electrification projects.

And perhaps the greatest driver of growth is the wider range of options for electric vehicles that are now available across a variety of vehicle type, price and models.

“Despite current economic conditions, 2020 will remain the year of the electric fleet pilot,” Harrison said.

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