Charging station

The "Solar Power Pole" was developed by Advanced Technology & Research Corp. (ATR), an engineering and manufacturing firm based in Columbia. It moves as the sun crosses the sky (because of the earth's rotation) to maximize its photovoltaic electricity production. Two charging stations, like the shown here in Bethesda, are installed at CCBC Catonsville and will be installed at 40 locations across Maryland. (Photo courtesy ATR)

One could think of the two electric vehicle charging stations on the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County as points in a widening state-, region- and nation-wide grid.

But tucked away in a fenced-in storage lot behind the school's automotive department, they don't get much use.

Though available to the public, their presence has not been widely advertised.

Most of their use comes in charging a low-speed car and a high-speed car owned by the college and used to train future technicians on electric vehicles.

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While most cars come with 110 volt chargers, the ones on campus are 220 volts — cutting an 8-10 hour task to four hours.

But the stations could become more frequently used in the future.

According to the Maryland Energy Administration, more than 80 charging stations will available for electric car drivers at 40 locations across the state this fall.

Most of the stations either already are, or soon will be, located along the Interstate 95 corridor, as well as in Charles and Frederick counties.

Stations are already located or planned for 14 sites in Baltimore City, three in Baltimore County, five in Anne Arundel County, four in Montgomery County, two in Prince George's County and one each in Carroll, Charles, Frederick, Harford and Howard counties.

The two on the CCBC-Catonsville campus were installed in October with grant money from the Maryland Department of Energy as part of an initiative to install 55 stations across the state, said Terry Wolfe, associate professor of automotive technology at CCBC.

Those on the Rolling Road campus were installed to allow veterans from the Veterans Administration to learn how to do site preparations at potential charging sites in order for licensed electricians to install the equipment.

This was done in partnership with affiliated companies Autoflex and Vetcars.

Eaton Corporation supplied the training materials and the actual charging stations.

"We really think that electric vehicles are going to be important in terms of powering Maryland's long-term energy future,"said Ian Hines, a spokesman for the Maryland Energy Administration. "So we've done a number of things to help stimulate the growth of that industry in Maryland.

"The reason for that is because electric vehicles face a sort of 'chicken or the egg' paradox, where folks who may be interested in building a charging station would be reluctant to do so if they weren't confident that there were electric vehicles on the road to serve as customers," he said.

"And visa versa," he said. "Individuals who may be thinking about buying an electric vehicle can be reluctant to do so if they're not sure that there are charging stations available for them to charge their vehicles while they're out on the road."

And so the state used stimulus money to help with the initial costs of 65 charging stations through partnerships with grantees.


Planning for the future