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Maryland greenlights utilities to install 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations

The Maryland Public Service Commission authorized the companies to pilot a statewide EV charger network.

An electric vehicle charging station. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)
Updated at 9:35 p.m., 1/15/19

A decision issued this week by Maryland regulators will allow utilities to install a network of 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations around the state.

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved a five-year pilot program for the charging network. The move allows for installation of Level 2 and DC fast charging stations in service areas of Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, Delmarva Power and Light Company, Potomac Edison and Potomac Electric Power Company.

A statement released by the PSC said the test drive was designed to allow for a “limited” number of charging stations to be installed, while looking to “lay the foundation for a competitive market to develop in this space.”

Under the decision, utilities will be allowed to operate a specific number of chargers placed in public places on state, county or municipal government property.

Utilities are also authorized to provide rebates to customers who utilize smart charging that allows for multiple stations to be used efficiently, such as using energy for charging during off-peak hours.

“Maryland is taking a significant step toward expanding electric vehicle adoption and reducing our harmful tailpipe emissions with our approval of a proposal to create a statewide EV charging network,” Jason M. Stanek, chairman of the Public Service Commission, said in a statement. “Today’s decision not only ensures that charging infrastructure will support Maryland’s transition to electrified transportation, but also maximizes the benefits of smart charging while minimizing cost impacts to ratepayers.”

The pilot could represent just an initial phase for the program. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the utilities and other stakeholders including companies Tesla and GM proposed a $104.7 million network that would have 24,000 charging stations. That would be the second-largest network in the country behind only California.

For now, the PSC is backing the pilot in order “to lessen exposure by Maryland ratepayers,” the Commission said, referring to costs that would be passed onto electricity consumers.

Environmental groups also backed the proposal, including the Sierra Club, which said Monday’s decision advances the goal of making electric vehicles more convenient despite authorizing a lower number of chargers than was initially proposed.

“This Order is an important first step towards Maryland reaching its Zero Emission Vehicle commitments and 2030 Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Act climate goals, but it leaves a lot of work for the State to do in the transportation sector,” Sierra Club Senior Attorney Josh Berman said in a statement. “In particular, the Order leaves an unmet need for extending the benefits of electrified transportation to underserved communities. We appreciate the considerable work by the utilities and other stakeholders to develop the proposals to the Commission and look forward to working with all of these groups to help make electric vehicles as cheap, accessible, and driveable as possible for all of Maryland’s residents.”

The program is “an important example of a successful joint effort among utilities and EV industry players,” Anne Smart, VP of public policy at California-based EV charger network ChargePoint.

“The program’s approval is the culmination of a year-long collaborative process that brought together a wide range of stakeholders to build a statewide electrification strategy,” Smart said in a statement. “The Commission’s decision to support this effort lays a solid foundation that will influence the creation of future programs around the country. We applaud the Commission for its strong leadership in driving an open dialogue among utilities, charging station providers, environmental advocates, and other key interest groups.”

The state is driving at a goal of getting 300,000 zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025.

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