Pennsylvania Lawmaker Queries Electric Vehicle Charging Station Compliance Amid Push for Statewide Electrician Licensing

State Rep. Ed Neilson (D-Philadelphia)Submitted Image

HARRISBURG, PA — State Rep. Ed Neilson, majority chair of the House Transportation Committee, has questioned the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) regarding its adherence to federal regulations for maintaining electric vehicle charging stations across the state. The inquiry comes amid ongoing debates about the need for statewide licensing of electricians in Pennsylvania.

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program, established under the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is set to provide Pennsylvania with $171.5 million over five years. The aim is to make electric vehicle (EV) charging more accessible for both local and long-distance travelers. So far, PennDOT has announced $34.1 million for the first round of NEVI funding, and the application period for the next round closed on January 26, 2024.

Under NEVI guidelines, maintenance work on EV charging stations must be performed by qualified electricians who have met specific requirements. These electricians must also comply with prevailing wage laws and Davis-Bacon laws, which set standards for wages on public works projects.

Neilson raised concerns during a recent meeting with Pennsylvania Secretary of Transportation Mike Caroll. He questioned how PennDOT ensures that awarded projects comply with NEVI regulations, emphasizing the importance of worker and consumer safety and the appropriate use of taxpayer money.

“State-approved apprenticeship programs in Pennsylvania meet the minimum requirements to install EV charging stations and include the training program designed by the federal government to ensure the safety of workers and consumers,” Neilson stated.

Caroll responded by assuring that PennDOT performs rigorous oversight on awarded contracts to ensure full compliance with federal regulations, despite NEVI being a new program.

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Interestingly, Pennsylvania does not currently require electricians to be licensed to work. However, Neilson has consistently advocated for legislation to mandate statewide licensing for all electricians. In a memorandum posted in December 2022, Neilson outlined his concerns about the dangers posed by untrained individuals performing electrical work.

In the memo, Neilson stated, “When untrained individuals repair or install electrical work, it is a danger to workers and consumers. While some municipalities license electricians, Pennsylvania remains one of a handful of states that does not require statewide licensing for this highly skilled and dangerous profession.”

Neilson plans to reintroduce legislation aimed at improving safety for those working in the electrical field and their customers. This bill, previously introduced as HB 1110 during the 2021-2022 Session, proposes a statewide licensing requirement for electrical contractors, electricians, and apprentice electricians. The bill also aims to simplify and streamline the existing system of municipal licensure by creating one uniform standard recognized statewide and by many other states.

As Pennsylvania moves toward an electric-powered future, the safety and efficiency of its EV infrastructure will be of paramount importance. Ensuring compliance with federal regulations and establishing a statewide licensing system for electricians could be crucial steps in that journey.

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