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Howard legislation would require new homes to support electric vehicle charging stations

Howard County is considering a proposal to require new single-family houses and apartments to have infrastructure to support charging stations for electric vehicles.

“We are concerned about the environment and we think electric vehicles will help,” said Jen Terrasa, a Democratic member of the County Council who introduced a bill to require the necessary wiring and other infrastructure. “We have the capacity or will have to work toward getting the capacity to make the transition away from [gasoline] vehicles.”

Apartments and townhouse communities without garages would be required to have one station per 25 units.

The type of charging stations required by the bill cost $10,000 to $40,000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The cost for installation ranges from $600 to $12,700. Equipping homes with infrastructure ranges from $100 to $1,000.

Howard’s chapter of the Maryland Building Industry Association is opposing Terrasa’s proposal, which it believes would lead to a “patchwork of competing and conflicting local EV laws [that] will lead to slower, less efficient uptake of EV technology while contributing to more costly housing stock,” Josh Greenfield, vice president of government affairs, wrote in a statement.

The trade group believes the issue should be handled at the state level.

MBIA also criticized the bill because it would apply to “new occupancies,” not new construction. Terrasa plans to amend the bill to make clear the rule is intended only for new properties.

Howard’s first public electric vehicle charging station was installed in Columbia in 2011.

The region’s electric utility, BGE, “supports all efforts to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles throughout the state of Maryland,” said Richard Lost, a BGE spokesman, in an email. “EV charging infrastructure is necessary to help the state meet its goal of having 300,000 zero-emissions vehicles on the road by 2025.”

BGE and 14 groups, including the Sierra Club, in January proposed a plan to state utility regulators to address barriers to owning electric cars. The plan “could lead to the installation of close to 30,000 residential and public chargers if it is approved,” Lost said.

Terrasa’s bill was praised by Josh Cohen, director of policy and utility programs at SemaConnect, a Maryland-based EV infrastructure company.

“[This] is a forward-looking piece of legislation and there is precedent for it. Cities across the country such as Atlanta, San Francisco and Fremont have passed ‘EV-ready’ ordinances to require varying percentages of parking spaces in new multi-family and commercial developments,” he wrote in a statement. New single-family Atlanta homes are required to have infrastructure to support EV stations, he added.

Terrasa said her bill was partially inspired by a 2014 amendment to Montgomery County’s zoning code that requires some parking lots to maintain electric charging stations.

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