St. Paul considers requiring EV chargers at new housing, commercial developments

EV charger plans

EV charger plans

Electric vehicles are growing in popularity. For renters, however, it can be a challenge to find a place to live that has charging stations. The City of St. Paul is looking to change that.

A study is underway to analyze whether electric vehicle(EV) charging infrastructure should be required at new parking lots with 15 or more spaces, or at lots being expanded by 15 or more spaces.

The proposal would require 50% of multifamily building lot spaces to be EV-ready. Both multifamily and commercial buildings would also be required to have EV chargers installed in 5% of spaces. Four spaces would be the maximum required at commercial lots.

“Having at least 50% of all new parking spaces charger ready — we want to see that right away,” said Dan Collison, the senior director of business development and public affairs for Sherman Associates. “The conversation about requiring a certain amount of level 2 chargers is where we just ask the Planning Commission to perhaps pull back on that.”

Collison explained requiring spaces to be charger-ready provides more flexibility than if a specific number of chargers are installed in EV-dedicated spaces.

“When you’re charger ready, it means any space you have built, you can bring a charger and hang it there and plug it in,” explained Collison. “If that resident moves or sells their electric car and doesn’t need it, you can take that out and then that stall isn’t dedicated to a charger.”

Flexibility, he said, is important as demand changes and technology evolves.

“We just recently, in the last three or four months, began retrofitting properties Sherman owns across the Twin Cities with 34 new chargers,” said Collison. “Something we’ve already learned is depending on the housing, or the people living in the housing, they may or may not have electric cars.”

Renter Bryn Shank welcomes additional charging stations at apartment buildings.

“Your gas station is your house,” said Shank.

A couple of years ago, he started looking for a place to rent in St. Paul.

“It actually kind of made my decision to find a place easier because there’s just way fewer places [with chargers],” said Shank. “Finding one that was in my price range was a little tricky.”

Shank found a unit in a brownstone that had about 30 apartments. There was one electric vehicle charger.

“I got lucky that no other tenants needed to charge,” he said.

Shank is preparing to move again, relocating to Minneapolis where he works. The search was easier this time around, he said, because the number of EV spots has increased.

According to a city spokesperson, St. Paul’s Climate Action and Resilience Plan sets targets for electric vehicles to constitute 33% of vehicles on city streets by 2030, increasing to 80% by 2040, and then 100% by 2050.

Shank believes the EV infrastructure proposal could help drive demand.

“Having those chargers established at multifamily buildings makes it way easier for people to get an EV,” said Shank.

A formal recommendation on the proposal to the City Council is expected later this year, with a public hearing as soon as October.