NEW CASTLE — New Castle County is moving toward an electric future, passing code amendments Tuesday that relate to residential construction, electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.
County Councilwoman Dee Durham introduced the ordinance, which she said council has been working on since December. It passed by a 9-1 vote, with three absent.
“What it would do is require new homes to already have the conduit in place so that you could more easily and less expensively set up an (electric vehicle)-charging station in your home,” she said.
She added that the amendment’s passage is not as big a step as she was hoping for, due to state electrical code restrictions, but that county officials are working with Sen. Sarah McBride, D-Wilmington, on a corresponding ordinance at the state level.
“We wanted to actually have the wiring in place (when homes are constructed),” Councilwoman Durham said. “But this ordinance goes as far as we could regarding county code.”
Construction documents submitted with an application for a permit will now be required to include the location of electric vehicle supply equipment, as well as EV-capable, EV-ready and EV-installed parking spaces.
Also under the new rules, with building permits for Group R-2 residential occupancies (sleeping units of more than two dwellings, where occupants are primarily permanent in nature), at least 50% of parking spaces provided must be EV-capable.
In one- and two-family dwellings, builders must include an electrical panel in the garage or provide at least one dedicated EV-capable space.
The changes go into effect for building permits being applied for on or after Jan. 1, 2022.
The ordinance garnered several public comments, including from Rich Hall, the county’s land-use general manager.
“I think we’re now at a place where we’re supportive and looking forward to moving forward,” he said.
Peggy Schultz, land-use and transportation chair for the League of Women Voters of New Castle County, also voiced her support of the ordinance, saying it will help achieve President Joe Biden’s emission-reduction goals. In August, President Biden announced his hope that at least 50% of all new-vehicle sales will be electric by 2030.
Additionally, the U.S. Senate recently passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which will provide $7.5 billion to build a half-million charging stations in public spaces, in an effort to make recharging easier.
“We need to use every possible means at our disposal to curb climate change and get our air back to a breathable standard,” Ms. Schultz said. “We’re running out of time to get this right.”