On March 9, 2019, the City of San Luis Obispo, California adopted one of the nation’s first EV charging station ordinance requiring electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at all new developments. This new ordinance paves the way for the City to be one of the nation’s leaders in the transition to EVs.
How does this differ from the California building code which already has EV charging requirements? Why did the City adopt this ordinance? How many EV charging stations are going to be built in just one year since the ordinance was adopted? Read more to find the answers.
How does the California Building Code EV Charging Requirements Differ From the City of San Luis Obispo Zoning Ordinance?
Since 2017, the California building code required 2% of parking stalls at new developments to provide infrastructure for future EV charging stations. This is known as EV Capable, that is, it has the underground conduit and planned parking stall, however, it lacks any charger hardware, wire, or plug to actually charge an electric vehicle. An actual charging station with all the components to charge an electric car is known as EV Ready/EV Installed.
Beginning in 2020, the California building code stepped up the EV requirements even further mandating 10% of parking stalls to be EV Capable, though still no mention of actual charging stations (EV Ready).
The City of San Luis Obispo decided to take matters in its own hands by requiring EV charging (including EV Ready stalls) at all new developments. Here is the adopted ordinance:
Per the ordinance, all new developments must install both EV Capable (just infrastructure for future) and EV Ready (chargers provided). This is a step beyond the California building code, which just requires a smaller percentage of EV Capable.
At large developments with over 50 parking stalls, an impressive 10% of those stalls are to be EV Capable. In other words, large developments could bring over 10 electric car charging stations to the site.
Why Did the City of San Luis Obispo Adopt an EV Charging Station Ordinance?
In 2012, the City of San Luis Obispo adopted its first Climate Action Plan. A Climate Action Plan, or CAP for short, is a City’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases to combat Climate Change. A CAP includes greenhouse gas inventory from all the different sectors such as transportation, agriculture, and industrial as well as a list of mitigation measures to reduce the emissions. Within the City’s 2012 CAP, the City identified electric vehicles as a measure to reduce the transportation sector emissions.
The plan advocated for both a general promotion of electric vehicles as well as recommending the City to adopt EV Ready requirements prior to the California Building Code first EV charging requirements the following year.
After several years, the City decided to update the CAP. Currently, the plan is in the multi-year process of doing so. At this point, the CAP public meetings have established several “pillars”, or areas of focus, to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions. “Connected Community” is one of the main pillars, which includes electric cars.
One of the draft measures requires the City to implement an electric mobility plan by 2021. This supports the pillar goal of 40% of the vehicle miles traveled by EVs by 2030. At the moment, there is limited information on the actual implementation measures.
Nevertheless, the City is dedicated to shifting away from Internal Combustion Engine vehicles (ICEV), or gas cars.
What are the One Year Results After Adopting an EV Charging Station Ordinance?
Now to the good stuff. After one year of the EV charging station ordinance, there have been a total of 300 EV charging stations! These chargers are not built as of today since the development timeline can take a few years. Nevertheless, in just a short amount of time, hundreds of chargers will be available to residents.
When compared against the existing EV charging station count from data from Plugshare, the City has effectively more than tripled its EV charging station count in just one year. This is great news for both existing and future electric car owners.
Most of the approved projects include residential units. Since most EV charging is completed at home, this is a great step forward for EV adoption for apartment dwellers. Typically, apartments do not have EV charging access. Therefore, potential EV drivers must use public charging exclusively for their charging needs (which can be done with planning). If this is not doable, they must pass on EVs until they move to an EV-ready residence.
This sort of forward thinking is much needed for the adoption of electric vehicles. While requiring EV charging stations at new developments add additional costs to those projects, the cost increase is marginal. Plus, the cost difference between adding an EV charging station during new construction versus adding them in later is significant.
Per a study by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, the cost of retrofitting a parking spot to an EV charging station stall costs roughly 3.5 times more than the cost at new construction!
Lastly, it is impressive to see the sharp increase of EV charging stations just by requiring a small portion of parking stalls to have chargers. This should increase the percentage of EVs in the City of San Luis Obispo helping meet its Climate Action Plan targets.
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Hi there! I’m the founder and project manager at Charged Future: the EV charging consultancy. Charged Future helps businesses achieve their EV charging goals. Specifically, I serve as the project manager for your EV charging project, which can save you both time and money! Additionally, I can search and apply to all eligible rebate applications, which can typically cover a large portion of the project cost.