The Maryland Public Service Commission approved a series of electric utility programs – collectively known as the Statewide EV Portfolio – that will continue to drive progress toward the state’s climate and electric vehicle (EV) policy goals. The initiatives, approved earlier this week, come after a two-year collaborative process that involved input from dozens of state, regional, and national stakeholders on how the programs would best accelerate EV adoption.
Ultimately, the programs the Commission approved scaled back the level of ambition in the original $104 million proposal – which included plans to deploy approximately 24,000 charging stations across Baltimore Gas & Electric, Pepco, Delmarva, and Potomac Edison’s service areas. However, the approval marks an important step to accelerate the benefits of transportation electrification for all Marylanders and leaves significant opportunity for more comprehensive initiatives in the future. The state will need to ramp up efforts if it hopes to achieve the deep, 40 percent economy-wide emissions reductions needed by 2030 prescribed in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act of 2009.
The utilities’ approved programs contain several worthy elements, including:
- Rebates for 3,000 single-family residential EV charging stations, incentives for approximately 1,000 charging stations at multi-unit dwellings and apartments, and roughly 900 utility-owned, publicly accessible stations at state government and municipal properties.
- A requirement for utilities to develop EV time of use rates, which if designed right, can encourage drivers to charge up at times that don’t stress the grid and generate even greater fuel cost savings relative to gasoline.
- Dedicated funding to utility customer education and outreach, which will help more Marylanders understand the benefits of EVs and help enroll prospective EV charging station site hosts.
Despite some of these notable features, the Commission’s decision also significantly cuts the overall size of the utilities’ EV charging station deployment, including utilities’ Innovation Fund, which was expected to support projects that would increase access to the benefits of transportation electrification in low- and moderate-income communities. Medium and heavy-duty vehicles like transit buses are ripe for electrification, and utility proposals like the ones approved in California and Pennsylvania specifically deploy charging stations to support these heavier vehicles that slash harmful air pollutant emissions and provide greater access to clean electric mobility for those who do not drive personal vehicles. (The Pennsylvania program will be used to support Pittsburgh’s first all-electric transit buses.)
As the Commission notes, there was overwhelming support for the utilities’ original filing: on top of the original 15 signatories that set the proposal in motion, over 70 additional stakeholders from General Motors to the City of College Park urged the Commission to approve the utilities’ proposals.
There’s good reason for all that support. A MJ Bradley & Associates study finds that widespread transportation electrification needed to avert the worst impacts of climate change could produce $34 billion in cumulative benefits for Marylanders out to 2050 (and that’s just counting light-duty vehicles). Moreover, the state has ambitious policies in place that not only require Maryland to achieve 300,000 EVs on the road by 2025, but also to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent by 2030 from 2006 levels. Currently, Maryland has roughly 14,000 EVs on the road. According to recent data from the US Energy Information Administration, the state’s transportation sector is also by far the largest source of GHG emissions in the state at 48 percent. Any comprehensive action to address economy-wide emissions must address the transportation sector; electrification will be a critical pathway for achieving large scale GHG emissions reductions.
The Commission’s approval of a modified Statewide EV Portfolio represents a critical decision to make EVs – and their benefits – more accessible than ever. Maryland and the rest of the region must continue to build on that progress to ensure a clean, modern transportation future.