It's cheap to lay conduit and add breakers. But it could save thousands of dollars later.
Many of us TreeHuggers would dearly love for cities to ban cars and take steps instead toward promoting active, health- and life-improving transportation options. Here in the sprawling cities of the South, however, that future seems an awful long way off. (They've been talking about light rail in my town for the last two decades. Never mind separated bike lanes.)
That's why I tend to still see electric vehicles and livable, bike- and pedestrian-friendly cities not as a binary choice, but as two sides of the same coin. So I was pleased to hear that Atlanta has just passed a new "EV Ready" ordinance that should significantly improve the viability of electric vehicle charging in all new building developments.
Under the new ordinance, 20 percent of the spaces in all new commercial and multifamily parking structures will need to be EV ready. And all new development of residential homes will need to accommodate the infrastructure needed to install EV charging stations, such as conduit, wiring and electrical capacity.
In other words, this isn't as much about installing actual charging stations. It's just doing the work in advance, so installing charging stations is easy for when demand reaches a sufficient level. This makes a lot of sense. The first time I installed an electric vehicle charging station at home, a couple of young lads had to sweat in the North Carolina sun as they trenched my driveway to install conduit (and I paid a good $1000 for the privilege). The second time I installed a charging station, the electrician was able to use the conduit already laid to run a cable for the second unit. The cost was literally half the price.
As I've learned from my conversations with people who have set up public electric vehicle charging stations, location—and the amount of cable and trenching needed—will have a significant impact on cost. It's also why EV charging installation is easier with new construction. Simply mandating that developers do the easy stuff—breakers, conduit and the like—takes advantage of these benefits for very minimal cost.
Now, if Atlanta would make moves to restrict parking all together, and promote bikes and transit instead, then we TreeHuggers would really have things to celebrate.
Not sure transit is all that poplar in Atlanta right now though...