Funded with $ 37 million from the national legal settlement with Volkswagen for air pollution violations, grants for electric vehicle charging stations were awarded this year to businesses and government agencies in Maryland:
There were grants to have workplace chargers installed in places like a hospital in Cambridge and an office complex in Columbia. Grants for faster chargers, intended for transport lanes, were used to place them in a Dunkin ‘Donuts store in Elkton, an Exxon station in Annapolis and other locations.
None of the grants for fast chargers went to locations in Baltimore. And only one Baltimore company has received workplace charger grants – Under Armor.
The sportswear maker received $ 117,000 to offset the cost of installing 26 charging ports at its waterfront campus in Port Covington.
Under the Charge Ahead Grant Program, recipients are not required to make charging stations available to the public, but they can do so if they wish.
“I don’t know if Under Armor is making them open to the general public, but it would be nice if they did,” said Lanny Hartmann, a blogger who lives in Colombia and recently posted an article on grants.
Asked about access, a spokesperson for Under Armor said the company’s charging stations would only be for the use of employees and visitors.
“The purpose of this grant was to promote the adoption of electric vehicle charging by private companies so that their employees charge at work,” said Neil Jurgens, senior vice president of real estate at Under Armor, in a press release provided by the spokesperson. “This in turn will lead to the private adoption of electric cars.”
Jurgens said the company already has four charging stations provided by the ChargePoint company – three dual chargers at its Tide Point facility and a single charger in Building 37, the former Sam’s Club.
“All chargers require a code to function,” Jurgens said, confirming that for users of the 26 new ports, “a code” would also be required to access them.
Free access elsewhere
The money comes from the $ 75.7 million Maryland received as part of the $ 2.7 billion settlement from Volkswagen. (The automaker admitted in 2016 that it installed equipment on diesel vehicles that cheated on federal emissions tests.)
Part of this amount, $ 11.3 million, has been earmarked for state programs promoting “zero emission vehicle infrastructure”.
The idea behind the workplace program is to make it easier to charge electric vehicles in public and private establishments, to make driving electric vehicles cheaper and easier for employees, and to “attract a workforce. ‘cutting edge work,’ according to the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) which administers the program.
But that doesn’t mean that all grant recipients have chosen to restrict the use of charging stations, as Under Armor has.
In the one location in Maryland that received a larger grant – the Columbia Gateway Office Complex, which awarded $ 234,000 for 52 charging ports at six addresses – charging will be accessible to everyone.
“We believe open system architecture is the way of the future,” said Matthew Wade, CEO of the EV Institute, the Baltimore company that supplies Level 2 chargers to Columbia sites.
“If someone is in that area and wants to use the charger, they can just do it. “
“We think it should be like going to a gas station and getting gas” – Matthew Wade, EV Institute.
Wade said the current landscape, in which drivers too often have to pay monthly subscription fees to providers and use codes and key fobs with rfid to access their accounts, discourages consumers from embracing zero technology. emission.
“We don’t think you should have to do this,” he said. “We think it should be like stopping at a gas station and getting gas.”
Towards zero emissions
Who can use the charging ports is a small part of the uncertainty surrounding plans for Under Armor headquarters in Port Covington, which were scaled back earlier this year amid business setbacks and the Covid pandemic. 19.
Jurgens noted that the grant program is set up to provide reimbursement after installation, adding, “We can always decide not proceed. “In the wake of the Covid, the company is in” voluntary return to work mode at the moment, “he said.
• Charger deserts in big cities are pushing electric cars away from the mainstream (New York Times 04/16/20)
• The infrastructure plan provides for 500,000 new charging stations. Don’t screw it up like the first 80,000 (Forbes 4/12/21)
The state received applications for workplace grants for 55 sites and ultimately awarded 37 in August, according to the MDE, which selects recipients with the Maryland Energy Administration. In addition to Under Armor, a government site in Baltimore received funding, State Center.
There are currently more than 36,000 electric vehicles in the state, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation.
“We have completed the first round of funding, but we are opening two more rounds of funding,” said MDE spokesman Jay Apperson. The drink. “The second round of funding will open towards the end of this calendar year, and the third round of funding will open at the end of 2022.”
Like many, Hartmann will be watching closely. A long-time electric vehicle driver and advocate, he said he “looked at the role of public money” in accelerating the adoption of zero-emission vehicles in the face of the planet’s climate crisis.
“The state subsidy is significant, but on a very small scale,” he said. “There is great potential – with billions of dollars in federal infrastructure money coming up – to fund EV stations in a big way and really make a difference. “