Amendment Will Remove Ban on EV Charging Stations at Federal Facilities

NOV 5 2015 BY LANNYH 19

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Allows the GSA to install and operate EV charging stations for private vehicle use at Federal facilities.

An amendment, modeled after the EV-COMUTE Act, that would allow the General Services Administration (GSA) to construct, install, and operate electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for private vehicle use at federal facilities at no cost to taxpayers was adopted by the US House of Representatives on November 3, 2015.

Federal agencies currently have no authority to install and operate EV charging stations, so federal employees and contractors are unable to charge their vehicles while at work.

The amendment to the Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act of 2015 was sponsored by Congressman Thomas Massie (R-KY), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Congressman Massie modeled the amendment after the EV-COMUTE Act (H.R. 3509) of 2014 written by Congresswoman Lofgren. The amendment added language to the original bill that will give jurisdiction to the GSA for the installation and operation of the charging stations at Federal facilities.

“In 2012, Congress passed legislation to allow electric vehicle recharging at the U.S. Capitol for congressmen and their staff for a fee, but neglected to extend this authority to other federal agencies and employees. Our amendment would correct this disparity,” said Rep. Massie, who serves on both the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.

Will give Federal employees more options in their commute.

“I first learned of this issue after a constituent wrote me a letter last year,” said Rep. Lofgren, who introduced the EV-COMUTE Act that served as template for this amendment. “In it, he said he was ‘surprised and dismayed’ that it is illegal for federal facilities to provide electric vehicle charging stations for the public or their employees, even at no cost to taxpayers. My family has an electric car and I know they are an important part of improving efficiency and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. As this amendment was adopted on the House floor today, it served as a powerful reminder of the role citizens play in generating new ideas and legislation.”

“In my personal and public life, I consistently support an all-of-the-above energy strategy for the United States,” concluded Rep. Massie, an MIT graduate who drives a Tesla electric car daily in Washington, D.C. “I’m proud to sponsor this amendment because it will expand transportation options for many Americans at no cost to taxpayers.”

The House is expected to vote later this week on the Surface Transportation bill, H. R. 3763.

Eshoo, who also introduced the original EV-COMUTE legislation said, “As the nation’s largest employer, the federal government should lead by example in offering workplace charging. Silicon Valley is home to thousands of electric vehicle owners, yet the more than 5,000 federal employees in my congressional district have no access to charging facilities at work because of a quirk in existing law.”

UPDATE: The Surface Transportation Reauthorization & Reform Act passed the House and is now headed to conference with the Senate. Congress faces a November 20th deadline to prevent a gap in highway funding.

About the author: Lanny Hartmann runs PlugInSites.org, a website that delivers news about electric car charging stations in DC, Maryland, Virginia & beyond.  We encourage readers in the area to check it out!

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19 Comments on "Amendment Will Remove Ban on EV Charging Stations at Federal Facilities"

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Just one more example of over-regulation. One sometimes wonders how our government functions at all.

Oh, wait… it pretty much doesn’t, anymore. 🙁

This is not over regulation at all. Government agencies can only perform actions that they are authorized to do. The authority to install chargers was simply not in GSA’s authority, probably because they did not exist until recently. This bill simply adds EV Charger installation to their scope, in response to citizen requests. Seems like a good example of how things are supposed to work.

So does GSA need special authority to install LED lightbulbs and restrooms too?

It would appear language exists to block access to installing certain types of electrical devices, vs only allowing approved types of devices. Funny how intent of pubic policies at times differs from the written word they’re created.

“…it is illegal for federal facilities to provide electric vehicle charging stations for the public or their employees, even at no cost to taxpayers.”

The only way it could be done at no cost to the taxpayer is for an outside contractor to be hired to install an EV charge point at the facility, and for the fees associated with that to be paid for by someone else; either an outside organization, or by an employee who works there. Furthermore, if it’s really at no cost to the taxpayer, that means the electricity used must be paid for by the employee or some outside organization.

So, if what the article says is true, then all of this is prohibited, either by law or by regulation. How can you say that is not over-regulation? It’s a perfect example of exactly that.

It has nothing to do with regulation since GSA is part of the government itself, but I think we are just arguing semantics. They are simply adding EV charger installations to GSA’s authority scope of authority. I’m sure restrooms were already on the list.

I am disappointed that this hasn’t been done way before now, so I do share in that frustration that it took so long for this obvious thing to happen.

Darth said:

“It has nothing to do with regulation since GSA is part of the government itself, but I think we are just arguing semantics.”

You’re making no sense at all. Surely you realize that government agencies and employees are more subject to regulation which limits their behavior than we private citizens are?

If I was a government employee who wanted to get an EV charger installed at my work, and my boss at work told me that it was illegal, so they couldn’t do it even if I paid for it myself, that most certainly would not be “just a semantic argument” to me! It would be a very real situation with very real consequences affecting my life.

Great news! Glad to see a Republican taking the lead here. Support for EVs should not be a partisan issue.

He probably figures that EVs are good for Kentucky because they’ll burn more coal. 😉

The fact that Rep. Massie drives a Model S is likely a larger factor.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several Congresspeople that drive EV’s:

Sen. Lamar Alexander drives a Leaf, as does Rep. Janice Hahn. Rep. Massie drives a Model S. I’m not sure about Lofgren or Eschoo.

Maybe this is the the birth of the Congressional EV Caucus….

If Republicans are truly for small government, they should continue and expand EV subsidy. EV tax credit is a way to reduce government, and for many people (middle class), it’s the biggest reduction of their wealth confiscation.

This is a big deal. There are hundreds of thousands of federal employees and thousands of federal facilities not counting military facilities. If just the larger federal facilites start to get EV chargers that will attact a multitude of EV buyers.

It figures that the government is shooting itself in the foot. At the same the government is telling us we should all go out and buy electric vehicle and install charging stations they are banning the installation of charging stations in federal facilities. I’m surprised constituents had bring this issue up. Sounds like the government needs to put together a task force to go through the federal laws to see if there are any more out there that are impeding the adoption of electric vehicles.

Indeed. This is very significant. I hope states follow with similar legislation. I’m not a huge fan of workplace charging, but chargers at some workplaces don’t necessarily have to be for workplace charging.

Based on the White House’s 10 Jun 2015 Implementing Instructions for Executive Order 13693, here’s the instructions for charging personal ZEVs or plug-in hybrids at federal facilities – “Section 7(f) of Presidential Executive Order 13693 directs Principal (federal) agencies to consider the development of policies to promote sustainable commuting and work-related travel practices for Federal employees, including policies that foster workplace vehicle charging. As noted above, agencies are expected to submit workplace charging plans as part of the MAP as an appendix to the SSPP beginning in 2016 and annually thereafter. In cases where an agency has already implemented EV charging for personal use by employees, CEQ (White House Council on Environmental Quality) is interested in learning about those practices. The agency should provide CEQ with the relevant agency authorities and policies along with its SSPP. All agencies shall post their final plans on the agency’s public website in conjunction with the 2016 SSPP approval process. In the past, some agencies have inquired about the effect of GAO opinions on the use of appropriated funds to pay for the personal expenses of Federal employees. CEQ and OMB believe those opinions present a different set of facts than what is contemplated… Read more »

Thanks Vince, excellent post. The government already pays for public transportation, the cost to charge an EV every day for a month in most cases would be less than the cost of a monthly bus pass. You wouldn’t even need EVSE, wall outlets in most cases would give enough power for the commute home. The facilities could put in a few 220V outlets for people that needed a little more charge. But who are we kidding? You would need a visionary in the government with authority and a knowledge related to electric vehicles to get any of this to happen. Maybe in California you have that kind of federal employee but EV charging will probably have to be forced on federal facilities in the rest of the country.

“I consistently support an all-of-the-above energy strategy for the United States,” concluded Rep. Massie, an MIT graduate who drives a Tesla electric car daily in Washington, D.C.”

A climate change denier who owns a Tesla. I guess that’s progress.

Some call me a climate change denier, yet I drive an EV. All this emphasis on doom-and-gloom hysteria of climate change alarmists is driving people away from EV.

No, the planet isn’t likely to be destroyed from CO2 emssions in 100 years, nor 1000 years. But keep using more oil, and there will be another event like 9/11 in bigger scale.

We are so lucky climate change is our major concern related to energy nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not belittling the dangers of climate change. It’s just that back in the 1970s we were genuinely worried about the total collapse of society brought on by the oil shortage. If you want to see how bad people thought it could get just go watch Mad Max. Future generations are very lucky that we are actively paving the way towards a sustainable future.

I should have said Road Warrior. Mad Max revolved around a collapse of society but not so much related to the oil shortage.