- The Chicago City Council last week approved an ordinance requiring that new construction of some residential and commercial buildings ensures at least 20% of any supplied parking spaces are ready for electric vehicle (EV) charging equipment to be installed.
- The new rules apply to residential buildings with five or more units and commercial buildings with 30 or more parking spaces.
- Consumer advocates say the ordinance makes Chicago a national leader in its efforts to increase adoption of emissions-free vehicles, and called for similar policies to be adopted more widely. "This is a giant step forward and it's the kind of wise EV policy we need across Illinois," Citizens Utility Board (CUB) Executive Director David Kolata said in a statement.
Chicago officials say the new ordinance was developed in response to growing EV adoption across the United States, and the expectation that by 2040 more than half of all new car sales will be electric.
"Having more electric vehicles and fewer gas-powered vehicles on our streets will help move Chicago closer toward meeting its ambitious climate goals in the years to come," Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in a statement.
Chicago has committed to power all of its municipal buildings with renewable energy by 2025, and all city buildings by 2035. The Chicago Transit Authority plans to electrify its fleet of over 1,850 buses by 2040.
"Analysts have forecasted exponential growth in EVs over the next two decades, and Chicago must be ready," Alderman Brendan Reilly, chief sponsor of the measure, said in a statement. "Readiness starts with ensuring our municipal code anticipates the need for charging resources and other assets that will optimize the performance of our transportation network and minimize costs for electricity consumers, as EVs proliferate."
The city ordinance also requires at least one of the EV-ready spaces be accessible to people with disabilities. New buildings must have charging infrastructure in place or actual charging stations installed during construction, according to analysis of the ordinance by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
"As of now, the ordinance does not apply to existing buildings," according to NRDC. "However, as more people come to understand the significant health and financial benefits of EVs, we anticipate that communities will continue to demand EV readiness as a standard for all buildings across the United States."
CUB says policies that encourage vehicle charging when hourly energy rates are cheapest can help lower costs for all consumers — even those who do not drive an EV.