A group of Missouri state representatives is pushing to ban local governments from mandating electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at others’ expense.
Republican Rep. Jim Murphy’s Bill HB 184, which would require governments to foot the bill for publicly-mandated EV charging stations, garnered support when brought to a state subcommittee.
Murphy introduced the bill last December in response to a St. Louis City County mandate that requires new businesses, or those undergoing major construction, to install EV charging stations at lots with more than 30 parking stalls. Restaurants, schools, and hospitals are exempt, as are small businesses whose customers park for a short period of time.
It requires non-exempt businesses to dedicate 10% of their lot to recharging stations, with businesses on the hook for installation costs.
When drumming up support for the bill during a Jan. 25 government efficiency and downsizing subcommittee, Murphy said St. Louis County’s mandate was out of line.
“We’re using building codes to push political agendas,” he said. “This is a new green deal piece of legislation, to force people into something they really can’t afford to do… My [local] malls are barely holding on. They’re barely surviving. If they were to make any changes to that mall, they’d have to put in 350 charging stations at a cost of about $2.6 million.”
He said while he has no objection to private businesses installing charging stations for customer use, they shouldn’t be forced to install and pay for them by their local government. The legislation he’s proposing wouldn’t prohibit governments from making EV charging station requirements but would require jurisdictions to pay for the associated expenses.
Rep. Darrin Chappel (R-Greene County) said it would be unreasonable to assume the infrastructure being installed to recharge EVs today will remain the same as the auto industry continues to evolve.
“We buy new cell phones, they’ve taught us not to trust that your charger is going to work on your next phone that you purchase,” he said. “You have to purchase a new charger as well as a new cord and everything else under the sun. Within the technological realm in which we’re dealing, it seems to me rather presumptuous, not only to assume that electric vehicles will be the future but that this version will be the future.”
However, Jack Meinzenbac of the Sierra Club said the state bill would deter municipalities from ensuring enough charging stations are available.
“I don’t like the fact that you are taking away local control from cities and counties,” he told representatives. “That’s what you guys have been doing for years.”
Rep. Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) has previously spoken out against the bill, saying it would discourage the transition to net-carbon vehicles.
“I just want to make it very clear that your bill is making it more difficult for clean energy to happen,” he told the Missouri house when the bill was introduced last year. “And I think that we should never, ever do anything to make clean energy more difficult to happen.”
About 10,500 electric vehicles are registered in Missouri, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Despite the reluctance of some state lawmakers, the Show Me state is planning to invest more than $100 million in EV charging stations to prepare for an anticipated boost in carbon-neutral vehicles.
Global electric car sales are on the rise, with more than 6.6 million battery-operated vehicles selling in 2021.
Featured image: A 2018 Nissan Leaf electric car plugged in to charge battery at the EVgo charging station in Pearland, Texas. (michelmond/iStock)