EV-COMUTE ACT: From Constituent Letter to Law

December 9, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC- What began as a constituent letter addressed to U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D- San Jose) expressing disappointment over the inability of federal facilities to provide electric vehicle charging stations, became law on Friday as President Obama signed a multi-year surface transportation bill.

A provision inserted into the transportation legislation by Lofgren will now allow federal agencies to construct power charging stations for employees with electric vehicles at no cost to the taxpayer. Last year, a constituent penned a letter to Lofgren, alerting her of the issue and asking her support in finding a solution.

"I am writing to ask for your help in either changing a law or clarifying it, and I'm not even sure which law it is," the letter begins. It goes on to read: "I was surprised and dismayed to find that my workplace (NASA – Ames Research Center) does not have charging stations because it has been determined that it is illegal for Federal facilities to provide these stations for the public or the people that work at them."

The letter goes on to ask that Lofgren "change whatever law prevents the Government from providing these charging stations."

In her response, Lofgren wrote: "I, too, was shocked that there was a provision blocking federal employers from providing charging facilities for their employees while at work," and goes on to explain "that it was due to a particular interpretation of the law regarding how agencies are allowed to spend money. I have since drafted a bill to allow federal agencies to provide charging facilities for their employees."

The Electric Vehicle Charging Offers Modern Utility Terminals for Employees, or EV-COMUTE Act was introduced in September this year by Lofgren and original cosponsors Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Rob Woodall (R-Ga.).

After weeks of negotiations, Lofgren and Massie introduced and unanimously passed a floor amendment to the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to include language from EV-COMUTE in the bipartisan surface transportation bill. Lofgren secured the language in final passage after being appointed as a conferee to negotiate differences between House and Senate versions of the bill.

On Friday afternoon, the bill was signed into law by President Obama. As a result, consumers with electric cars will soon be able to use workplace charging stations for a fee that also offsets the costs for the construction and maintenance of the stations. 

"I first learned of this issue after my constituent brought it to my attention in a letter last year," said Lofgren. "Congress voting to adopt this commonsense policy serves as a powerful reminder of the role citizens play in generating new ideas and legislation."

# # #