Change is coming to the vehicles that we see on the road everyday. Electric vehicles are taking over the roads and they’re only going to keep growing. Charging stations for these vehicles is causing conflict in areas on how they should be established. Some areas are putting in charging stations but aren’t charging people money to use it, putting a huge gray area on what should be the rules with them. Whether they become very successful depends on how we want to use them.According to the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the successful deployment of electric and hybrid vehicles over the next decade is dependent on several factors:

  • The deployment of safe and complete charging infrastructure for electric vehicles for home use;
  • Increasing charger durability, efficiency, and reliability that leads to more customer acceptance and lowered costs;
  • Considerations for bidirectional flow (fully charged vehicles giving power back to the grid) and how it will be metered;
  • Widespread dissemination of charging systems that can provide Level 3 or “DC fast charging” (full charge in less than one hour) in the public realm;
  • Limits on charging time and access rules in these public charging stations;
  • Introduction of internationally-agreed upon standards for public charging stations;
  • and, an increased perception of ease-of-use by the average consumer (ie. this isn’t just for people who can afford a Tesla).

So what can local governments do?

The Transportation and Climate Initiative has several recommendations for communities who want to develop this kind of infrastructure:

  • Zoning is a key tool: defining electric vehicles and hybrids as permissible, and offering incentives to developments which include electric vehicle infrastructure can encourage the adoption of electric vehicles.
    • For example, a municipality could reduce the amount of required parking for a development, in exchange for the requirement of including electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Parking regulations can help too: electric vehicle-only spaces or preferred parking for electric vehicles in new development or parking redesign encourages the use of electric vehicles.
    • This can also be achieved through public-private partnerships – which provide value for private firms that install charging (can be used for green branding & possible LEED certification, and businesses may see increased traffic from electric vehicle owners), and for customers (who receive preferred parking and increased range for their vehicles).
  • Municipalities can encourage electric vehicle charging in home and business settings by eliminating unnecessary administrative and inspection steps, and providing straightforward code language.
    • For example, CALGreen’s Green Construction Code contains mandatory measures for nonresidential construction that require 8% of total parking spaces to be designated for low-emission, fuel-efficient, or carpool vehicles, and lays out voluntary measures that incentivize 10% and 12% designations. This standardizes the building code for the entire state, reducing red tape for developers. 
  • Local governments can also work towards fee and process standardization to help both electricians installing electric vehicle charging equipment and consumers.
    • For example, Vancouver, Canada has even decided that installation of an electric vehicle charging system in a private garage is safe and minor enough that it does not require any permits at all!

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