Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles (EVs) help to reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality, and promote energy efficiency. Fully electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular with consumers and their use can be supported by making EV recharging stations more convenient and accessible.

Inclusion of EV charging facilities may lead to increased consumer use of electric vehicles.

How it Works

While fully electric EVs do not use gasoline, they still must be recharged through the local and regional electric distribution system. Municipalities can encourage the use of EVs by supporting the provision of recharging facilities and reducing other barriers to their use. EV use is also supported through resources that assist in locating recharging stations during longer trips.

Benefits

Reduced Pollution

The expansion of EV use reduces non-point air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The total energy needed for recharging an EV is less than that needed to power a gasoline powered vehicle over an equal distance. The reduction in carbon emissions would be even greater when EVs are charged from a utility grid using renewable energy sources.

Energy Conservation

When electric vehicles are recharged during off-peak times (such as at night) their use can both shift the demand away from gasoline and towards a more efficient use of electricity.

Efficient Future Installation

Anticipating future demands for recharging facilities during land development planning can make their installation less costly.

Greater Market Acceptance

Planning for more EV charging facilities can help create the infrastructure that can encourage their wider use.

Charging stations are a critical component of supporting EV use. Top to bottom: parking facility in West Chester; visitors' parking lot at Longwood Gardens; and the Chester County IU in Downingtown.

Get Started

Municipalities can help create conditions that can encourage the wider use of EVs by adopting supporting policies and regulations:

Encourage Wider Installation in Non-Residential Developments

Municipalities can offer incentives for the provision of these facilities in office, commercial, and multi-family developments. Municipalities can encourage the provision of electricity charging conduits to be installed under parking lots, which can facilitate their later provision without the need to excavate paved areas. Density bonuses or relief from other land development requirements could be offered for a combination of energy saving measures including the recharging stations.

Encourage Enhanced Electric Charging Capabilities

More opportunities can be created for EV owners to charge their vehicles if homes and businesses are equipped with charging circuits at the time of initial construction. The Pennsylvania Uniform Construction Code does not currently regulate EV recharging facilities or require their initial provision, but municipalities could encourage their installation by discounting part of the application fee for building permits or other incentives.

Amend Land Use Regulations

New types of land use and zoning categories may be needed to accommodate EV charging facilities. Consumers may require a facility where their vehicles can remain for a period of time as they recharge while drivers can take advantage of other activities on the site such as shopping, visiting a coffee shop, or participating in a recreational activity.

Regional Coordination

Municipalities can create joint training opportunities for building inspectors who inspect and approve EV facilities, and adopt uniform multi-governmental zoning, and subdivision and land development regulations for EV charging facilities.

Utilize Municipal EVs

Municipalities can lead by example and use EVs to replace conventional vehicles in their fleets.

Considerations

"Range Anxiety"

Some consumers are hesitant to buy fully-electric vehicles due to concerns about being stranded without access to charging stations. Smart phone apps available for locating the nearest charging stations can help to ease this anxiety. (See Resource Links.)

Availability of Recharge Stations

Related to "range anxiety" is the availability of publicly accessible recharge stations. Most recharging is conducted at individual homes, however, public recharging stations and their facilities are becoming more commonplace and are more easily found through smart phone apps.

Vehicle Price

High battery costs make EVs more expensive than comparable traditional fuel vehicle, although initial purchase costs may be reduced by tax incentives and rebates. Prices may also go down as technology continues to improve and more EV options become available.

Long Recharge Times

EVs can require long recharge times, depending on the charging systems. Some common charging technologies can require up to 21 hours to fully-recharge an EV battery. Faster charging is possible, but this requires the professional installation of special equipment.

Funding Limitations

The ability to install EV recharging facilities in public locations may be limited by available funding.

Parking and Charging Facilities

Charging stations and parking locations need to be in proximity, and EV owners may therefore indirectly receive preferential parking locations. This may not appear to be equitable. Vehicles with completed charges should also be moved to free the charger for another vehicle, which may result in enforcement difficulties.

Examples

Montgomery County, MD

Per their zoning ordinance Article 59-6.2.4.E, "Any parking facility constructed after May 12, 2014, containing 100 parking spaces or more, must have a minimum of one parking space ready to be converted to a station for charging electric vehicles for every 100 parking spaces, or fraction thereof." Zoning amendment.

Philadelphia, PA

Title 14-803.6 of the city's zoning ordinance requires, "Any development, as defined… that contains a residential use and is providing 20 or more parking spaces in connection with the development shall provide electric vehicle parking spaces in accordance with Table 14-803-3."

Fairfax County, VA

Fairfax County has made official zoning interpretations allowing electric vehicle charging stations as an accessory use to office and residential type uses. Parking spaces allotted for electric vehicle charging stations which meet the dimensions of a standard parking space are encouraged and are counted as a required parking space.

Middletown, CT

Per zoning ordinance Section 40.02.01, "Any new development that requires 25 or more parking spaces, as calculated by Section 40.04 of these regulations, shall have a minimum of 1 charging space or 3% of the total number of spaces allocated to Electric Vehicles (EV's) (whichever is greater) and must have a Level 2 or 3 charging station/connection per EV parking space. Parking spaces shall be well lit and shall be for public use."

Methuen, MA

Section V-T of their zoning ordinance contains a number of standards for electric vehicle charging stations. This ordinance has a different approach in that it sets a maximum total number of EV spaces versus a minimum and does not count charging stations as full parking spaces.

Resource Links

Electronic vehicle ownership information is supported by interactive maps showing charging stations.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

U.S. Department of Energy

National Conference of State Legislators

DVRPC (Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission)

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