This month, we had a full slate and long meeting. After starting with pizza and drinks, we introduced John (with a Volt), Rich (with an i3), Mike looking into a conversion project, and Jose, a Nissan mechanic- we’ll get into that. Also present was our guest Bill Griffiths, of the Montgomery County government, with County plans and progress.
We recapped the National Drive Electric Week e-vents. Ron described the Frederick showing, plus Hanover, PA. Poolesville’s NDEW had a great turnout of EVs, actually too many- the parade of EVs had to be kept down to seven. A dealer was on hand, giving test rides, and wants to be back next year. The Baltimore venue was the Inner Harbor’s new DC Quick Charger (dual standard), with BEVI’s Jill also reporting on Lake Montebello. Sunday, Sep. 20 was the National Mall NDEW, not exactly at the new Mall Level 2 charging spaces but convenient and busy. We had a high turnout of both cars, bikes, and passerby. Out of 195 national and international e-vents, EV Insider has considered the Mall date a major NDEW date, and is giving us some coverage.
Speaking of the new Baltimore chargers, other Maryland sites are negotiating grants from the MD Energy Administration. Some money is expiring; municipalities took too long to settle their deployment plans and make purchases before required dates. Montgomery County, for one, supports charging but wants better architecture standards, such as road signage and other public displays- see below.
Member Dennis mentioned the Falls Church NDEW date, plus his experience at the Potomac Yards shopping center. The development offers charging, and Dennis made sure the manager of the Giant Foods location knew charging was atrracting more business to their establishment. We all need to remind property managers that charging is desired, and the average EVer is a desirable customer.
The 2015 Tour of Solar Homes had 3 EVs at the Pepco location alone; we were well-received. Other good locations were Bassett’s restaurant, by a large solar array, and Joyce’s house.
Member Lynn recounted her trip to Philadelphia in a Leaf. Though Greenlots offered fast charging, various issues kept her from using the company’s CHAdeMOs. Greenlots member access is by RFID readers, like most charging networks. However, Lynn’s account balance had fallen to zero, but neither the charger unit nor her phone could tell her this. The charger only indicated a charging failure. Even a call to Greenlots customer service did not reveal the issue. Only after arriving in Philadelphia, and checking her email with a computer, did she realize the problem, which is easily fixed. The customer service representative could have solved this by the side of the road if they had this knowledge; the charger itself could have given more information on the nature of the fault if it had been programmed to do so. Instead, Lynn had to find an alternate charger, strictly due to poor management and operations on the part of Greenlots.
Jill then mentioned the Ecotality charging network ihas been taken over by Carcharging, which is handling operations and site maintenance. Ron floated the idea of an adopt-a-charger program; some of the initial EVSEs purchased in 2011 are approaching the end of some four-year warranties. This can be seen in the Towson Walgreens site. Some EVSE manufacturers offer extended warranties and service plans. Member Karsten mentioned the network operator NRG is realigning its divisions; it intends to stay running and make a profit. Dennis mentioned Semaconnect in Bowie got $15 million in funding.
Jill briefed the club on BEVI’s 2015 summer intern results. Thanks in part to BGE/Constellation grant money, this summer produced several outcomes. There was more EVEP (EV Education Program) progress. BEVI outlined transportation hubs with car charging, e-bike parking and swapping, and bus/train access. Such hubs would phase outward gradually from Baltimore’s center. Greenways and safety were studied. A need for consistent signage and graphics was identified, with sample roadside signs and lights. Level 1 charging was considered differently from higher power infrastructure, with different business models and marketing. And Baltimore-based firm Under Armour now supports an Inner Harbor maker space, for high tech startups and other cottage industries, such as the Organic Transit Elf studied by BEVI.
The issue of clear, obvious signage was brought up again. Besides the BEVI concepts, Rob suggested consulting California, the leading EV state; Karsten suggested German Autobahn examples. A suggestion was to post an “EVSE of the month” on our website, to familiarize club members and site visitors and bring attention to the more interesting locations. For example, the MDVOLT group held one of their monthly meetups at a complex that installed charging infrastructure; the group then added a sign.
Ron brought up the change of season and its coming club party and auto show circuit. We will need volunteers for all.
We then had our speaker for the month, Montgomery County’s Bill Griffiths. Bill oversees general services, fleets, and transit; as a large, populous county, that’s over 3400 total vehicles. Montgomery County is well along towards its sustainability targets, with some hybrid, plug-in, and full-electric representation, and installed charging infrastructure. This includes some Ford Focus Electrics; police BMWs and Teslas were actually studied but rejected. The vehicles have telematics and tracking; this has revealed the average outing is 26.8 miles, well within range. The custom electronics can force electric driving, and limit reliance on a hybrid’s engine; however, it was found that the fleet electronics sometimes drained the auxiliary 12V batteries and had to be watched. The County is expanding its EV charging, but has no plans to make the municipal charging sites open to the public, at least for another year.
Bill did say that public charging at a range of sites (libraries, rec centers, public squares) is about a year away. New construction will have EV-readiness designed in, versus trying to retrofit later. It will be future-proofed, as even Level 1 charging must be on a 40 Amp circuit breaker; the County is installing oversized conduit for later expansion. That power will be cleaner than the grid, itself cleaner than the US average; Montgomery County is a big customer that can get great rates on renewables. To provide both usage metrics, and greater interoperability, the County is working with Chargepoint’s network and RFID access.
From Rockville, our friend Erick of Tesla has offered raffle items for our party, and possibly use of their Rockville facility for the party itself. If so, there may be test drives offered- discussion continues. Meanwhile Jeffrey is also looking for party possibilities. Similarly, we are preparing for the Washington (Jan 22-31) and Baltimore (Feb 4-7) Auto Shows. This involves lots of outside groups, and thorough negotiation well in advance.
The EV Infrastructure Project reports charging at Camp Springs, Urbana, and BWI has been activated. Westminster Place, Washington Blvd., and Joppa are coming soon.
In internal business, Rob is selling his Think City; he also nominated Scott for Vice President in our upcoming elections. He accepts; Jill accepts a secretary nod, with reservations. However, we still have a need for editor and communications staff. With no such names, we put the matter to a voice vote, accepting as stated. The issue of club shirts, hats, etc. is inconvenient as always. The preferred vendor holds surprise sales which we cannot plan for in advance.
Rene mentioned Hilton and Marriott guest charging policy; both want EV customers. Rob mentioned Florida marinas, which had power for boaters and is allowing their EVs as well. Scott mentioned a 1912 Baker electric, which in 1967 had a solar panel added.