At the March 1st City Council session, members in attendance unanimously passed the second of two ordinances designed to expand Electric Vehicle (EV) charging. Portland’s leaders made these code updates to incentivize Level 2 charger installation by private companies in spaces accessible to people living in multifamily residences. These early steps seek to remove barriers blocking the widespread adoption of low-carbon-producing vehicles.
City Council passed the EV Ready Code Project on February 8, 2023. These zoning code updates require new multi-dwelling and mixed-use developments with five or more units to provide EV-ready charging infrastructure, as long as the property includes onsite parking. Starting on March 31, builders must provide conduit and electrical capacity to support the future installation of Level 2 EV chargers for 50% of the available onsite parking spaces with a minimum of six spots. Developments with six or fewer spaces would need to provide this infrastructure to all parking spaces.
Although the EV Ready Code Project does not require EV charger installation, it removes much of the costs associated with retrofitting that equipment into parking infrastructure. As tenant demand for charging access increases, that lower installation cost should also shorten the time building owners take before adding the environmentally friendly amenity.
Charging infrastructure availability is a barrier to some residents looking to buy an electric vehicle, particularly those without onsite parking or living in existing multifamily residences. The second round of code amendments approved yesterday will address offsite parking electrification. EV chargers in the right of way would expand choices for many car buyers who must park on city streets. The recently passed ordinance directs the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to work with private charging companies and utility providers to establish curbside Level 2 EV charging. It updates the City code to allow the installation of this equipment and dedicates public parking space to EVs. The Charger equipment could mount to existing utility poles or freestanding pedestals in the furnishing zone. PBOT will limit the number and type of operators allowed to install charging equipment in the right-of-way. Individuals and businesses are not eligible to install personal charging equipment on public streets. These code amendments only apply to chosen companies with the ability to install and maintain EV charging equipment at a large scale.
Program architects designed EV charger equity into this initiative through targeted placement. Master Lease Agreements with EV charging companies and utility providers would require the distribution of chargers into neighborhoods currently underserved by existing EV infrastructure. EV chargers will be allowed on Local Service Traffic Streets around the corner from Main Streets. Program coordinators envision charger installations within larger districts like Gateway Regional Center, Hollywood, Lents, and St. Johns. Additionally, Neighborhood Centers like Roseway, Woodstock, and Montavilla are prime locations for charger expansion. PBOT staff must report to City Council by June 30, 2024, on the policy’s progress and could request further changes to City Code to advance the program.
According to the ODOT TEINA Report, conservative estimates say that Portland needs to add 9,500 public charging ports by 2035. City leaders and staff feel these two new programs are the best approach to meeting that goal while creating affordable and convenient access to EV Charging in Portland. PBOT says installations of curbside EV chargers could begin later this year, but there will be a public notification process before any work begins. If these programs are successful, thousands of shared EV chargers could become available to Portlanders over the next decade.
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