April 17, 2024

Brynn Hausz, Director of Council Operations

Saint Paul City Council Adopts Policy to Ensure New Development is Ready for Electric Vehicles

SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA – Today, the Saint Paul City Council voted to expand and improve access to electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in surface parking lots in future development. Ordinance 24-5 requires new and expanded surface parking lots to provide conduit and electric panel space necessary for future installation of electric vehicle chargers, guaranteeing more equitable access to EV charging for all residents regardless of home type.

“The majority of our future residents will continue to live in rental housing, yet without this policy, will face disparities in access to electric vehicle charging. If we want people to adapt cleaner modes of transportation, we need to build the infrastructure to support them in doing so,” said Council President Mitra Jalali. “This forward-thinking policy will help advance more sustainable development in the most cost-effective way.”

“The ordinance moves us in the right direction”, said Councilmember Cheniqua Johnson. “The Eastside is home to both renters and homeowners. The more proactive we are about ensuring everyone has access to something as simple as a parking spot that can charge their vehicles, the less of a hassle it becomes for families to see an electric vehicle as something worth purchasing.”

Council Vice President HwaJeong Kim echoed her colleagues’ support, adding, “This is a big step for our city’s climate action approach and I’m grateful for all the work staff have done to move our city away from a reliance on fossil fuels.”

In just a few short years by the early 2030s, EVs are projected to be a majority of car and light truck sales in the US. While current EV owners predominantly reside in single-family homes, multifamily residents are increasingly drawn to EV ownership as prices decrease. Currently, 44% of St. Paul housing units are multifamily, and over 90% of the units to be added in the next two decades will fall into this category.

Retrofitting parking lots or ramps for EV charging can be two to ten times more expensive than upfront installation[1], which is why this amendment places significant emphasis on EV “capability” and “readiness” in surface parking lots. For surface parking lots with more than 15 spaces that require site plan review (including new, expanded, or reconstructed lots), at least 80% of spaces must have a conduit connection to electrical service and sufficient electric panel space reserved. Larger lots must also ensure that 1 in every 30 spaces has wiring installed (essentially, everything except the charger itself). Visit the City’s Electric Vehicle Charging Zoning Study on the Department of Planning and Economic Development website for more information and supporting documentation.

[1] Studies in Orlando, San Francisco, and Oakland have shown that EV charging retrofits cost two to ten times more than new construction installations.

Last Edited: April 24, 2024