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Opinion: Ensuring reliable EV infrastructure for Maryland’s sustainable future

Electric vehicle charging stations in the parking garage at Union Station in Washington, D.C. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

By Lanny Hartmann

The writer is a Maryland electric vehicle driver and editor of

Maryland aims to have 300,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025. As of Dec. 31, 2022, there were 62,744 EVs registered in the state. As the number of EVs in Maryland continues to grow, it is essential that the state’s EV charging infrastructure keeps pace.

One crucial aspect of growing the infrastructure is ensuring that the EV charging stations are fully functional. When they are out of service or malfunctioning, it can create a major inconvenience for EV drivers, especially during longer trips. People who live in apartments and cannot charge at home also depend on public charging to get to work and for other essential travel. Equitable distribution of EV charging is necessary, and the reliability of those charging stations must be ensured as well.

Maryland is one of the few states that allows regulated utilities to own and operate public EV charging stations, and pass the cost on to the rate base. The Maryland Public Service Commission approved a pilot program that permits over 1,000 charging ports to be run by utilities, including BGE, Pepco, Delmarva Power, Potomac Edison and SMECO. The cost of the program will be passed on to ratepayers, regardless of whether they drive an EV or not. Currently, the stations are losing money, but it is hoped that increased usage will eventually make them self-sustaining financially.

Four years into the pilot program, utility-owned charging stations are facing challenges. Despite assurances to maintain high reliability, the results have been disappointing. In a customer satisfaction survey conducted by BGE and published in its semi-annual EV pilot program report, 26% of respondents reported not being able to complete a charging session, and 27% reported broken equipment. Negative reviews on the crowdsourced EV charging app PlugShare have also led to low utilization.

When the Public Service Commission was considering the utilities’ EV charging pilot programs, the commissioners were assured that the public charging network would be maintained to a high degree of reliability. However, there is currently no regulatory standard for charging station reliability metrics, as there is for the grid.

In September 2022, I visited all 69 BGE fast chargers in Maryland and checked how well they were functioning. The results indicated that 29% of the chargers had some kind of deficiency, ranging from complete failure to reduced power output. During a follow-up round of testing two months later, the number of malfunctioning chargers had increased from 29% to 35% of the total. These findings suggest that the reliability of the utility’s public EV charging stations is not meeting the expectations that were set when the pilot program was approved.

These results are not only concerning for EV drivers but also raise questions about accountability to ratepayers. We should be able to trust that the utilities are maintaining their charging stations to a high degree of reliability, as promised. As ratepayers, we deserve to know where our money is going and how effectively it’s being used.

To address these issues, Delegates David Fraser-Hidalgo and Jen Terrasa are sponsoring the Electric Vehicle Charging Reliability Act (HB 834), which sets a minimum uptime standard and requires regular reporting on the performance and cost of utility-owned charging stations. This will provide transparency for EV drivers and ratepayers and help the utilities quickly identify and resolve any issues.

Maintaining reliability is an important step towards ensuring that Maryland’s charging infrastructure is robust. By keeping focus on good EV driver experience and reliable charging infrastructure deployment, Maryland will maintain its position as a leader in EV adoption. The state’s goal of 300,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025 will only be achievable when the public can charge quickly, affordably and most of all, reliably.


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Opinion: Ensuring reliable EV infrastructure for Maryland’s sustainable future