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Plugged In: Area Businesses Opening Up To Electric Vehicles

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Bob Bruninga installs one of his EV Charging signs.
Jessica Gould
Bob Bruninga installs one of his EV Charging signs.

They say if you're a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if you're an electric vehicle activist like Bob Bruninga, everything looks like a charger.

The electric grid is everywhere, says Bruninga, and so are outlets: "You plug it in at home. You plug it in at Grandma's. You plug it in at work. Just wherever there's a standard 150 volt outlet."

Bruninga is meeting with business owners in Annapolis to see if they would be willing to let people plug into their outdoor outlets for a fee.

"I've convinced them to hang a sign that says electric vehicle charging, pay on exit or contact Joe in accounting for your monthly pass," says Bruninga.

O'Callaghan Hotel manager Lesley Pattison says she didn't realize it was possible for people to charge their cars in the parking lot: "He basically came in and told me we had an electric outlet."

Now, she's ready to participate. She says they're going to do their best to implement as much of a green policy as they can.

Not everyone is a fan of Bruninga's plan. Michael Farkas is CEO of Car Charging Group, which sells charging stations. He says electric vehicle battery sizes vary by manufacturer, and the cost of electricity changes by state and time of day. Charging stations take those factors into account, while Bruninga's plan doesn't.

"Without having a charging station in the middle of that, it becomes a cost for the property owner and a freebie for the car owner," says Farkas.

Bruninga says he supports the kinds of chargers Farkas sells, which pump electricity into cars much more quickly than regular outlets: "You need that fast charger for that safety net, that confidence."

But he says his plan would work for people parked overnight in hotels, or all day in parking lots, who want to charge up a bit while they sleep or work. And he says most electric vehicle owners are happy to pay for the service, which costs a lot less than filling a tank with gas.

"I don't want free electricity," says Bruninga. "I want to be able to pay so I can make it home."

He'll even hammer the sign himself. It's an outlet for his creativity.

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