Right-to-Charge Laws Expand Electric Vehicle Use in Multiunit Dwellings

Category Business

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EV use is being expanded with right-to-charge laws that require wiring for EV chargers be installed in all parking spots at new homes and multiunit dwellings. This increases the accessibility of EV charging and makes the transition towards electric vehicles more equitable.

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More than 3.6 million electric cars are driving around the U.S., but if you live in an apartment, finding an available charger isn’t always easy. Grocery stores and shopping centers might have a few, but charging takes time and the spaces may be taken or inconvenient. Several states and cities, aiming to expand EV use, are now trying to lift that barrier to ownership with "right to charge" laws. Illinois’ governor signed the latest right-to-charge law in June 2023, requiring that all parking spots at new homes and multiunit dwellings be wired so they’re ready for EV chargers to be installed .

Nearly 1/4 of U.S. housing structures have more than one dwelling unit

Colorado, Florida, New York and other states have passed similar laws in recent years. But having wiring in place for charging is only the first step to expanding EV use. Apartment building managers, condo associations and residents are now trying to figure out how to make charging efficient, affordable and available to everyone who needs it when they need it. As a civil engineer who focuses on transportation, I study ways to make the shift to electric vehicles equitable, and I believe that planning for multiunit dwelling charging and accessibility is smart policy for cities .

Access to a personal garage is available in only a third of multiunit dwellings

Transitioning away from fossil-fueled vehicles to electric vehicles has benefits for the environment and the health of urban residents. It reduces tailpipe emissions, which can cause respiratory problems and warm the climate; it mitigates noise; and it improves urban air quality and quality of life. Surveys show most EV drivers charge at home, which is a blessing given the fact that almost a quarter of all U .

Basic charger installation can drop to a few hundred dollars with existing wiring

S. housing structures have more than one dwelling unit, according to the 2019 American Housing Survey. In California, 32.5% of urban dwellings have multiple units, and only a third of those units include access to a personal garage where a charger could be installed. Even if installing a personal charger is an option, it can be expensive in a multiunit dwelling if wiring isn’t already in place. And it often comes with other obstacles, including the potential need for electrical upgrades or challenges from homeowner association rules and restrictions .

Florida and Illinois have both passed right-to-charge laws in recent years

Installing chargers can involve numerous stakeholders who can impede the process – lot owners, tenants, homeowners associations, property managers, electric utilities and local governments. However, if a 240-volt outlet is already available, basic charger installation drops to a few hundred dollars. Right-to-charge laws aim to streamline home charging access as new buildings go up. Illinois’ new Electric Vehicle Charging Act requires that 100% of parking spaces at new homes and multiunit dwellings be ready for EV chargers to be installed .

Home charging access for EVs streamlines as new buildings go up

Florida passed a similar law in 2020. The basic concept is simple enough: Each parking spot is upgraded to include both the electrical wiring needed for an EV charger and a conduit that will enable a charger’s cable to travel from the “juice box” in the parking stall to the electric panel in the unit. Right-to-charge laws are a step in the right direction towards expanding EV use and making the transition to electric vehicles equitable .

EVs reduce tailpipe emissions, noise, and improve urban air quality

With more towns, cities and states passing right-to-charge laws, EV drivers can expect more charging options available in the near future.

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