Counties Urge Flexibility and Safety for EV Charging Requirements

On February 14, 2023, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education, Energy, and the Environment Committee in opposition to SB 0477 – Residential Construction or Significant Renovation – Electric Vehicle Charging.

The House Environment and Transportation Committee will consider the bill’s cross-file, HB 0830, on February 28.

SB 0477 places new requirements on local government regarding the installation of electric vehicle charging equipment during the construction or renovation of qualifying housing units. While counties appreciate the need to transition to more sustainable, environmentally-friendly means of transportation, the implementation of SB 0477, specifically the installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure in areas where it would come in contact with other public utilities, poses a number of public safety challenges. Moreover, the bill is at odds with the Maryland Association of Counties’ (MACo’s) general goal of preserving local autonomy, because it effectively usurps county-level discretionary authority on the specifics of building requirements and regulations.

From the MACo Testimony:

Counties have long been testing policies to require EV charging infrastructure in new and existing housing with limited success. The complicating tradeoff is that requiring the installation of such infrastructure adds significant cost to the production and preservation of affordable housing. Frederick County’s own foray into this field offers a possible middle ground solution, as the county currently requires the instillation of inexpensive tubing that can later be used to house much of the EV charging infrastructure. This largely negates the additional significant expenditure, and leaves open a conduit for future instillation. Under SB 477, however, this approach would be insufficient… The bill raises further considerations around public safety. Private electrical wires, including those obligated under SB 477, are not marked or mapped like public utilities. However, these wires would lay within or beneath the same section of street. It is very possible that public works or private utility employees may need to access these underground utility connections, e.g. a water main break, and inadvertently strike one of these unmarked private electrical lines. Furthermore, there is no requirement for an easily accessible shut-off switch for these lines, so such a scenario could be made even more dangerous.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2023 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database

Learn more about MACo’s 2023 Legislative Initiatives

Read more General Assembly News on MACo’s Conduit Street blog