DOVER — Last year, General Motors announced that it would stop selling new vehicles with internal combustion engines and would only produce electric vehicles by 2035.
This month, Chrysler announced that it plans to reinvent itself as an all-electric vehicle company by 2028.
“Already, there is a tremendous amount of electric vehicles on the road. We know that the demand is ever increasing with the industry responding … so we as a state need to prepare,” said Rep. Krista Griffith, D-Fairfax, at the start of Tuesday’s House Energy Committee hearing.
Legislators gathered virtually to discuss Senate Bill 187, sponsored by Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington, that would require the state’s three largest cities to create electric vehicle residential charging infrastructure rules.
If passed, Dover, Newark and Wilmington leaders would have to begin the work of figuring out how its residents — especially those without garages — will charge their electric vehicles. The bill will require the state’s municipalities with more than 30,000 residents begin to write procedures for permitting the installation of electric vehicle charging stations on residential property within their jurisdictions.
“The shift to electric vehicles is not ideological, it’s imminent, and it’s inevitable,” Sen. McBride said at the start of the hearing. “The major car manufacturers have all stated that the market is moving in this direction. And if we wait until market demand exists before we begin to grapple with these fundamental questions about accessibility, we’re going to be too late and so this legislation seeks to spur the conversation within those largest municipalities.”
The problem of how to charge electric vehicles in high-density residential areas is a difficult one. It raises questions about assigned parking and what to do when vehicles with combustion engines park in electric vehicle spots.
Rep. Bryan Shupe, a Republican and former mayor of the city of Milford, asked the bill’s sponsors why the state has to get involved in matters that will have to be solved at the local level.
“Consistency is going to be key in this application. I think given that these are three of the largest municipalities with the largest staffs of the municipalities, they’re going to be in the best capacity to design solutions that other communities will model. The legislation is an incentive to start this process now, as opposed to putting it on the worker list for municipalities of all sizes,” Rep. Griffith said.
During the public comment phase of Tuesday’s hearing, SB187 received overwhelming support from those that chose to speak.
Peggy Schultz of the League of Women Voters of Delaware urged the House committee to support the bill.
“The league is an enthusiastic supporter of electric vehicles and the infrastructure that will support these vehicles. The International Council on Clean Transportation reports that a medium-sized electric vehicle has 60 to 68 percent lower climate impact in the U.S. than a gas-powered vehicle,” Ms. Schultz said.
The Sierra Club and the Delaware Electric Vehicle Association also expressed their support.
Sen. McBride said the three cities that are the focus of SB187 are also on board.
The House committee voted unanimously to support the legislation and move it forward for debate on the House floor.