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St. Louis Wants To Make It Easier To Charge Electric Cars

An electric vehicle charging station in the 3100 block of S. Grand Boulevard as seen on January 14, 2021
Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis Public Radio
Proposed development requirements could make it easier for owners of electric vehicles to find charging stations in St. Louis, like this one in the 3100 block of South Grand Boulevard.

Owners of electric vehicles who live in or travel to St. Louis may soon find more places where they can charge their cars.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen earlier this month gave first-round approval to requirements for installing electric vehicle charging stations. A final vote could come Friday, and Mayor Lyda Krewson is expected to sign the measure.

“By 2030, we could have up to 30% of the vehicles in St. Louis as electric vehicles,” said Alderwoman Heather Navarro, D-28th Ward. “Prices for these vehicles are coming down all the time. They save drivers about $6,800 in fuel costs over the life of the vehicle. And the biggest barrier to purchasing these is finding a place to charge.”

The requirements would go into effect Jan. 1, 2022, for new single-family, multifamily and commercial construction, and major commercial building rehabilitation projects. They would apply to major single-family rehabilitation projects starting Jan. 1, 2024.

Residential construction would only require the installation of an outlet that can handle charging an electric vehicle, Navarro said. Commercial construction would have to include stations and equipment like the cords to hook up to the car. The number of spaces varies by the size of the project. The requirements do not apply to businesses with high turnover in the number of vehicles parked outside, such as day care centers or restaurants.

“The idea is you plug this in while you're waiting sitting at your desk job or you know, wherever you are,” Navarro said.

Some aldermen, such as Joe Roddy, D-17th Ward, worry whether backers took into account a future shift away from owning any type of car.

I’m just concerned that we’re locking people in with a large expenditure on something, when you know, the idea of everyone owning electric cars, or owning a car period going forward, I think at some point is going to be diminished,” he said.

Alderman Brandon Bosley, D-3rd Ward, is concerned about the cost of installing the stations and equipment.

“There’s a lot of development going on on the north side of St. Louis. I think we’ll have hundreds of millions of dollars that will be invested over the next couple of years,” he said. “But there are smaller developers right now that have really, really big issues coming up with an extra $12,000, or even an extra $1,200. And I definitely don’t want even $1,000 or $1,500 to be an issue when it comes down to trying to build these commercial spaces."

There are rebates available from Ameren that are worth as much as $20,000 for high-speed charging equipment, Navarro said. She added that developers can appeal the requirements to the city if they are too much of a financial burden.

The city used funds from a Bloomberg Foundation grant to draft the legislation.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.