In the absence of a national EV charging network local governments have been stepping up. And the city of Chicago might have the best plan, bringing huge change through a simple zoning ordinance. States can pass legislation to pump massive amounts of money into EV infrastructure, but what can a city council do to make a difference?

Ready for charging

As reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, this new ordinance will require many new buildings to install EV chargers in at least 20% of parking spaces. Commercial buildings with more than 30 parking spaces and residential buildings with more than 5 units must install chargers.

What I find interesting about this approach is that it puts the requirement on developers as opposed to working towards a publicly owned network. This should make the expansion of EV charging in Chicago come slowly. Rather than a huge expansion retrofitting older parking spaces we pretty much have to wait for new parking lots. Retrofitting old parking to enable EV charging is 6 times more expensive than doing it for new parking, so it makes sense.

It also means EV chargers might not be in the places they’re needed most for some time. Without a comprehensive plan to install new chargers, there’s probably going to be clusters of chargers in newly developed areas.

They’re predicting that 15 percent of Americans will purchase an EV as their next vehicle. And in six years, the cost of an EV is projected to equal the cost of a fossil fuel vehicle

Alderman Brendan Reilly

Over time, I think this approach will work very well. Chicago is basically turning their back on any businesses not willing to help reduce air pollution. Eventually, EV chargers are going to be practically everywhere.

The most important part of this ordinance is the requirement for new residences to be ready for charging. Charging a bit while you shop doesn’t really make the most sense. But the ability to charge is a major roadblock to potential EV buyers living in apartments.

And while being able to charge at the grocery store might not be super useful, it does make EV’s more visible. In just a few years people are going to see EV chargers everywhere. And that kind of visibility will make EV adoption far easier with worries of range anxiety completely abated.

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