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Carroll County aiming to add electric vehicle chargers, to be supplied by BGE

Electric vehicle chargers could pop up in Carroll County this summer once the Department of Public Works applies for charging stations that would be installed by Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners on Thursday authorized Public Works to apply for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. BGE hopes to build about 50 charging stations in Carroll, at no cost to the county, according to Kristy Fleischmann Groncki, BGE manager of strategic programs.

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BGE has about 60,000 electric and 16,000 gas customers in Carroll County, plus 426 employees who live in Carroll, according to Megan Eaves, BGE external affairs manager.

The initiative to provide EV chargers stems from the state’s push to reduce carbon emissions. The General Assembly passed legislation this year mandating that half of the state’s energy come from renewable sources by 2030. And in 2013, Maryland was one of eight states that signed a memorandum of understanding committing to zero-emission vehicle programs.

Maryland’s goal is to have 300,000 electric vehicles on roadways by 2025, and there are more than 20,000 electric vehicles in the state now, Fleischmann Groncki said.

“We could, in fact, be the first jurisdiction in Maryland to get these in from BGE,” Douglas Brown, deputy director of public works, said at the commissioners’ meeting. Fleischmann Groncki later confirmed this statement.

Brown reached out to BGE as soon as he heard the program was available because he believes it will benefit locals and attract visitors, he said after the meeting.

Carroll is also served by Potomac Edison, which also plans to offer chargers down the road, according to Brown.

While there are some EV chargers in Carroll currently, none are utility-owned public chargers on county-owned sites, Brown said.

BGE identified the Eldersburg, Finksburg and North Carroll library branches, the South Carroll Senior and Community Center, Carroll Community College, and the county office building as some of the first possible sites for chargers. Brown said BGE is looking for places with 24/7 access.

Board of Commissioners President Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, suggested installing a charger at the Carroll County Sports Complex and encouraged BGE to consider more locations, not just places that are always open to the public.

Drivers would park their vehicles while they charge and pay through a smartphone app or by providing their credit card information over the phone, Fleischmann Groncki said.

One issue with existing EV chargers is their maintenance needs.

“An EV driver will go a certain distance to get to a charger and then find that it's not operational. BGE is being held to the same reliability standards as our electric distribution system, so they must be operational at all times. ... Customers will have the sense of ease that they can go to a BGE charger and that it will be working and operational,” Fleischmann Groncki said.

BGE is aiming to install a total of 500 charging stations across its service area, Brown said.

The company will also offer rebates to encourage individuals to install chargers at home or in non-residential areas, according to Eaves. The incentives cover up to 50 percent of the cost, including the charger, electrical equipment and installation, Eaves said.

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Four commissioners authorized the Department of Public Works to apply for BGE chargers. Dennis Frazier, R-District 3 was absent.

Fleischmann Groncki hopes BGE will install chargers in Carroll during July and August.

“Carroll County again leads the way,” said Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5. “This is good news.”

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