The Senate Environment, Energy and Transportation Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would require new homes to be built with electric vehicle charging stations.
Senate Bill 103, sponsored by Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington, would require new single-family homes with building permits issued after Jan. 1, 2024 and multi-family homes with final site plans issued after Jan. 1, 2025 to have electric vehicle charging stations.
Single-family homes would need to have a charging station either in a garage or the home’s designated parking space, while multi-family homes would need to have at least 5% of parking spaces equipped for charging electric vehicles.
“The shift to electric vehicles is not ideological, it’s imminent and it’s inevitable,” McBride said. “Every major automobile manufacturer has announced a transition to electric vehicles. It’s not a matter of if it’s just essentially a matter of when. This legislation seeks to make sure that Delaware is better prepared for that transition.”
McBride said the cost to install the wiring would be a couple hundred dollars for a single-family home, while installing a conduit and wiring would be several thousand hundred dollars.
“I feel like I have to preface this by saying that I’m not opposed to EV at all, in fact there’s a bill out there where the state is going to move to a fleet of vehicles…and I signed onto that, so why can’t the state take the lead,” said Eric Buckson, R-Dover. “So I’m not opposed to that.”
He said he is, however, very concerned when the state makes mandates that are outside of its government agencies.
Buckson asked McBride if she has spoken with towns and municipalities to see what their opinions are.
McBride said they incorporated feedback they’ve received from local governments in the form of an amendment to the bill that would remove language about certain electrical requirements and update the definition of multi-family homes.
The amendment has not yet been added to the bill, so the exact changes are unclear at this time.
The bill was approved by the committee with five in favor and two on its merits, though because Senate committees don’t vote publicly on bills, it is unclear how committee members voted.
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Voting for a bill on its merits means a legislator doesn’t want to go on record for supporting or opposing, but would like it to move forward for discussion in the House or Senate.
Sen. Dave Lawson, R-Marydel, asked how the grid would be able to support the extra power that an increase in electric vehicles would bring, and she said in response that it’s not the job of the bill to create more electricity.
“I’m not here to argue about the policy changes that might occur on the back end to ensure that the grid is fully prepared for the transition to electric vehicles…but if for instance we’re not going where I said we’re going, and a byproduct of that is partly because of the grid, demand will be lower then,” McBride said. “And this is just to make sure that we’re prepared for what will inevitably be an increase in demand.”
While 11 people spoke during the bill’s public comment period, six were directly in favor of the bill, the rest of the commenters said they supported parts of the bill but had some issues with it.
Jamie Nutter, speaking on behalf of the Delaware Electric Cooperative, said they’ve given their members a rebate on electric vehicle chargers so long as they allow the cooperative to dial back their energy usage during peak hour, which is something he’d like incorporated into the bill.
Brian Boyle, senior policy director with the New Castle County Executive Office, said they are in support of the bill and that they have already built 725 electric vehicle capable homes.
“We believe Senate Bill 103 is the next logical step to implement this requirement statewide and to require new multi-family units to install EV chargers for parking spaces,” Boyle said. “This last change will be especially impactful for renters who are less likely to own electric vehicles because of challenges with charging at home.”
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Joe Fitzgerald, the lobbyist with the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, said they preferred an older draft of the bill that included a private right of action, but believe they will be able to work with McBride to get a better bill passed.
A private right of action is the ability of a private person to legally enforce their rights on other people or organizations.
Scott Kinder, Delaware Apartment Association, said they would like the bill to have a later start time for when multi-family homes will need to have chargers in their designs, and they do see people asking for more electric vehicle charging stations.
John Irwin, chair of the climate & energy committee with the Sierra Club, said that the bill would make people more interested in buying new houses.
“As we look forward and this transition to electric cars is coming, people will want to buy a house that has the capability or a low cost charging system tradition,” Irwin said. “So for that reason, it’s good for the sellers, it makes their houses more attractive. It’s good for the buyers, saves them money and it’s good for the environment.”
The bill, which doesn’t require a fiscal note, has 11 additional sponsors and cosponsors, all of who are Democrats.
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