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Qingbin Cui, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director, Build America Center.

Qingbin Cui, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director, Build America Center.

 

Transitioning to electric vehicles (EV) can go a long way towards meeting emissions reductions targets and reining in climate impacts. But a lack of charging stations in lower-income areas threatens to limit access and exacerbate inequities.

With support from a $15 million federal grant, Maryland is addressing the problem by constructing dozens of charging stations in economically disadvantaged parts of the state—and the UMD-led Build America Center (BAC) is helping to spearhead the effort.   

The BAC, based at MTI and led by civil and environmental engineering professor Qingbin Cui, specializes in assisting states and municipalities as they seek funding opportunities through the landmark Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), passed in 2021. Funds from that legislation have now been made available to the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC) to provide 58 new charging stations.

To implement the plan, the MCEC will be working with the Maryland Equitable Charging Infrastructure Partnership (MECIP), which includes the BAC as well as nearly 20 corporate and municipal partners. Implementation will be based on a crowdfunding plan drawn up by Build America Center researchers..

The plan adopts a crowdfunding model for financing the charging stations, with ownership of charging stations offered to members of Historically Disadvantaged Communities (HDC) at a steep discount. Through such an approach, owners would be incentivized not only to invest in the stations, but also to maintain their upkeep.

"By providing ownership opportunities, community members become active stakeholders in the project, aligning their interests with the success and sustainability of the EV infrastructure," noted Cui and his co-authors in a paper detailing the proposal. "This approach not only fosters a sense of ownership and pride but also ensures that the benefits of the charging stations directly flow back to the community," the authors suggest.

In a hypothetical Montgomery County test case, the team found that rates of returns for the community investors could be as high as 68%.

In addition to developing the crowdfunding plan, BAC supported MCEC’s application for the $15 million grant by conducting emissions and equity analyses. BAC will continue to provide technical assistance to MCEC during project implementation, track/monitor/verify emission reductions, and assist with public engagement. 



April 12, 2024


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"By providing ownership opportunities, community members become active stakeholders in the project, aligning their interests with the success and sustainability of the EV infrastructure. This approach not only fosters a sense of ownership and pride but also ensures that the benefits of the charging stations directly flow back to the community."

UMD Professor and Build America Center Director Qingbin Cui, et al., "Exploring the Potential of a Crowdfunding Program to Achieve Equitable EV Charging Infrastructure"

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