Electric Car Charging Stations Coming To Ocean City

OCEAN CITY – Electric car charging stations are coming to Ocean City, opening the resort up to the technology advanced demographic in the hopes the private sector will follow suit.

In April, 65 Tesla vehicles participated in a Tesla Road Trip event held in Ocean City. The event included a photo taken of all participating vehicles, an information session, Boardwalk recreation for participants and a Boardwalk parade.

Tesla Motors, Inc. is an American company that designs, manufactures and sells electric cars and electric vehicle powertrain components. The nearest Tesla Super Charges are located in Salisbury.

Following the event, Councilman Wayne Hartman asked staff to investigate installing Tesla charging stations in Ocean City.

“In talking to some of the folks, Tesla will provide the equipment for charging stations if we install it,” Hartman said at that time. “The unfortunate side is some of those car owners were staying in Salisbury because there is a charging station there … if we could provide charging stations perhaps at the convention center … it is an inexpensive way to attract a new group of tourists to our town.”

Last week City Engineer Terry McGean came before the Mayor and City Council explaining Tesla Motors has a grant program for installation of electric vehicle charging stations. Tesla will furnish two Tesla charging stations and one universal charging station as well as fund installation costs of up to $1,500 per station.

However, the equipment provided has no method of charging users for the cost of electricity. Tesla estimates the cost of electric at approximately $1 per hour of charge time and McGean agreed.

“Over the past few years, we have had an increasing number of requests by electric vehicle owners for these charging stations,” McGean said.

At this time, the demand for these stations is relatively low and there is concern that installing stations at reserved spaces in the city’s higher demand parking lots will result in vacant spaces when the lots are otherwise full, McGean furthered. Therefore, a lower demand area is one consideration in evaluating potential locations.

McGean recommended the south east corner of the south Roland E. Powell Convention Center parking lot as an initial location.

“There is adequate electric service from Delmarva Power and Light at the well house, the spaces are not heavily used, there is a bus stop close by and the stations could be offered as an amenity to the convention center,” McGean said.

Hartman feels this will be beneficial for the city and its visitors.

“This has so many positives for the town,” Hartman said. “First of all Tesla is not only paying for the stations but for installation, so there is no cost to us. With that, we will be a destination for people with Tesla’s when they see we have a charging station. There are five proposed Tesla dealerships coming to Maryland, so it is something that is going to be growing in popularity. In addition, they are providing a universal charger, so for someone who has a different brand of an electric car can also be charged there.”

Hartman added parking at the convention center is free, so there will be no loss in revenue. He made a motion to approve the Tesla grant program with the recommended location at the convention center.

Councilman Dennis Dare explained Tesla’s have a driving range of 240 miles before having to be charged, and in speaking to Tesla owners they would stop at the Centre at Salisbury and shop and dine while their vehicle was charging before coming to Ocean City.

“I definitely support bringing the Tesla charging stations here to Ocean City because the popularity is growing, and they start at $70,000 so it is a good demographic to attract but I have a fundamental problem with using tax money to subsidize somebody’s transportation,” Dare said. “I would much rather see installation at a commercial area in Ocean City where the business owner provides this and they will likely patronize the businesses.”

Hartman disagreed, stating the town should not wait for the private sector to take initiative.

“It is a win-win for the town,” he said. “If a Tesla comes here and spends one night in a hotel, then that dollar is received 10-fold or more … When the Tesla event was held here, a lot of them stayed in Salisbury. We didn’t get that revenue. I don’t want to miss out on that opportunity.”

Mayor Rick Meehan agreed with both of his colleagues and offered a compromise in providing a 30-day window for a commercial property to come forward to take advantage of the opportunity.

Hartman stated his original motion stood, and the council voted 5-2 to approve the recommendation with Council President Lloyd Martin and Dare opposed.