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Annapolis electric-vehicle charging business grows

An Annapolis company has received an order to produce 1,500 electric-vehicle charging stations to serve the small but growing number and variety of plug-in, battery-powered cars on America's roads.

SemaConnect Inc. said Tuesday it would be supplying charging stations to 350Green, a California-based developer of electric vehicle-charging networks that's planning a coast-to-coast rollout of charging stations.

"Conveniently located charging stations will play a critical part in the adoption of EVs," SemaConnect founder and president Mahi Reddy said in a statement. Before starting the charging station business, Reddy had been a top executive with a health care information technology firm.

The charging station order represents a quantum leap for SemaConnect, which Reddy launched three years ago from the basement of his home, according to spokeswoman Naly Yang. The firm has produced 80 to 100 stations to date for use in Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic states, she said. The largest contract until now was with the state of Maryland, which has ordered 55 for placement in public locations around the Baltimore-Washington area, including eight at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

The firm has eight full-time employees, but with business growing, it hopes to more than double its payroll in the coming year, Yang said, and find a larger production site to replace the Annapolis garage where chargers are assembled.

SemaConnect characterized the deal as the largest commercial order of EV charging stations to date, though there are other charging-station manufacturers and networks with more devices deployed so far. ECOtality, a San Francisco-based firm, has installed about 3,400 charging stations as part of a federally backed project to place more than 14,000 in five states, according to a spokeswoman. Coulomb Technologies, also based in California, has more than 3,000 charging ports up and running in a network spanning 14 countries, a company spokeswoman said in an email.

The new charging stations are to be deployed at various locations around the country, according to John Williams, a spokesman for 350Green. The San Diego-based company has reached agreements to put public EV chargers at Walgreens and Sheetz stores and on municipal property in such states as California, Illinois and Pennsylvania, he said.

350Green itself has installed a little more than 100 stations so far, Williams said in an email, but has contracts to place about 1,100 and expects to have a total of 1,900 locations by year's end.

"Anyone who owns or is thinking about buying an EV is concerned about how easy it will be to find a charge when they need one," 350Green CEO Mariana Gerzanych said in a statement. "As such, EVs will never become truly mainstream until there is adequate public infrastructure support."

tim.wheeler@baltsun.com

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