OCEAN CITY — Charging electric vehicles in Ocean City could become faster and more efficient, but it could also come with a price tag.
Ocean City officials this week heard a request to upgrade most of the electric vehicle charging stations in the resort, remove some and add more in new locations.
The Electric Vehicle Institute (EVI) provides most of the charging stations within Ocean City at its own costs, while the town is on the hook for the cost of supplying the electricity. On Tuesday, City Engineer Terry McGean explained EVI has expressed a desire to upgrade its charging stations to a higher capacity, which would reduce charging times for most electric vehicles. EVI also has expressed a desire to relocate some of the underutilized charging stations in the resort to areas more likely frequented.
Currently, there are two Level 1 chargers at the 3rd Street ball fields, two Tesla-only and one Level 2 charger at the convention center south lot, two Level 1 universal chargers at the 100th Street municipal lot and two Level 1 universal chargers at the 125th Street location.
McGean recommended approving EVI’s requested changes, but also said the town should begin to explore a way to charge for the service to offset the town’s growing cost to provide electricity to the charging stations.
“We’ve been thinking of ways we can begin charging for the service provided,” he said. “One way is utilizing the Parkmobile app many use to pay for parking. We can dedicate zones on the Parkmobile app and require people who use the chargers to utilize the app to help pay for it.”
McGean explained the use of the electric vehicle chargers could be tied to the cost of parking in most cases, or in other cases where parking is free, the fees could reflect that. For example, in some existing areas where the chargers are located, parking is free and the cost of using the service could be $2 per hour. In areas where the parking already costs $2 per hour, using the charging station could raise the cost to $4 per hour.
Councilman Dennis Dare said electric vehicle owners are already accustomed to pay for charging. Indeed, some convenience stores in the area have charging stations that require fees akin to getting air in tires or using the vacuum.
“Users don’t expect to get free energy,” he said. “A lot of them can and do enter memberships. It’s not like you can just pull into a 7-Eleven and get gas.”
Council President Lloyd Martin said he wasn’t sure it was even the government’s role to provide the service, although he did acknowledge it was a nice amenity for electric vehicle users.
“I think this should be private enterprise,” he said. “I do think it’s good public relations for the town to provide more opportunities. When you see more and more of these vehicles, you’ll see more charging stations pop up.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the location changes and the fee schedule for using public chargers.