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Environment and Climate change stories from WYPR

Some are powerless to buy an electric car as Maryland moves to all EV sales

Stephanie Leach with BGE demonstrates EV charging at an event at State Center in Baltimore. Photo by John Lee/WYPR.
John Lee/WYPR
Stephanie Leach with BGE demonstrates EV charging at an event at State Center in Baltimore.

Editor's Note: This is part of WYPR’s ongoing coverage of Climate Change In Your Backyard. 

Maryland has a goal that only electric vehicles will be sold in the state by 2035.

So now the race is on to put electric charging stations in enough places to make people believe they can buy one without the danger of running out of juice.

At a recent electric car expo run by the state, Sharon Norris was sizing up a Ford Mustang Mach-E, and had questions for Stephanie Leach from BGE who was demonstrating how to charge up the car.

“How much are they?” Norris asked. “What are they running?”

The answer: Around $55-60,000

Leach hastened to add that maintenance costs less for an electric car. It’s cheaper to charge up rather than gas up, and there are incentives that lower the sticker price.

Norris said she’s thinking about switching from her 2009 Chevy Malibu.

“They’re convincing me,” Norris said. “I’m really old school.”

Leach said perhaps the biggest hurdle in convincing someone to buy an electric car is “range anxiety.”

“I think mostly people are worried that there aren’t enough charging stations near them,” Leach said.

Leach said people need to be convinced to turn their homes into a charging station.

BGE estimates you’ll pay between $700 and $1600 to install a charger although there are rebates available.

“You don’t have to worry as much about range anxiety because when you come home after a work day you just plug in and you come out in the morning to a full charge,” Leach said.

That works great if you’re like Frank Rowlette, who owns his home with a garage in Baltimore County. Rowlette bought an electric vehicle, an Audi, about a month ago.

“I think it’s great,” Rowlette said. “And the fact I don’t have to go to the gas station.”

But then there’s Emily Mendenhall, who lives in Federal Hill and has an EV. She shares street parking with her neighbors. She’s tried with no success to get a few street parking spots in the neighborhood dedicated for EV charging.

Mendenhall doesn’t want to run a power cable from her home to her car on those days she lucks out and snags parking in front of her house.

“Everybody in a wheelchair, or anybody with a stroller, or anybody coming down the street with a cane, just anybody walking, trips over your cord,” Mendenhall said. “That’s terrible.”

Mendenhall said the nearest charging station is about a mile away and currently it’s not working.

Also, if you live in an apartment building it’s up to the landlord whether there will be charging stations provided.

Del. Jen Terrasa, a Howard County Democrat, proposed requiring charging stations at newly built apartment buildings. But the legislature instead agreed to study it. Terrasa plans to propose the idea again during the 2024 General Assembly session.

“We’re going to have an all, I mean basically all electric vehicles on the market so we also have to have the infrastructure to handle that,” Terrasa said.

Part of that infrastructure is a goal President Biden has set to create a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030.

Brian Gillespie, a sales manager for Blink based in Miami which manufactures charging stations, said they’re tripling the number of chargers they were producing a year ago.

“The vehicle takes time to charge, sometimes a few hours. So the idea is we want to bring charging anywhere a vehicle can park, it should also be able to charge,” Gillespie said. “So at home, at the office, at your shopping centers, even on road trips, we want to get to a place where fast chargers are available just as frequently as gas stations.”

The question is will the future supply and locations of chargers keep pace with the number of electric vehicles being driven off the lot.

“You’re going to see a huge influx of chargers being put it,” said Leach with BGE.

Maryland has a goal of reducing statewide greenhouse gas emissions 60% by 2031.

You can find more information about electric car charging at bge.com/electricvehicles.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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