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County supes approve Plug In Electric Vehicle Charge System Ordinance

Plug it in, plug it in.

The County Board of Supervisors approved a Plug In Electric Vehicle Charging System Ordinance, which requires pre-wiring for electric vehicle charging systems in new buildings in the unincorporated areas of Santa Clara County.

The ordinance applies to new single family residences, multi-family dwellings, and non-residential buildings.

There are currently three types of charging stations available:

    1) Level 1 charger, using 120 volts of electricity and charge a vehicle in 5 to 20 hours;

    2) Level 2 charger, using 240 volts of electricity and charge a vehicle in 4-7 hours;

    3) Level 3 charger, which transfers 400 to 5000 volts directly current to vehicle batteries, and can charge a vehicle in as short as 15 minutes.

Under the ordinance, new residential developments are required to pre-wire for Level 2 chargers at the time of construction; new large multi-family buildings and non-residential buildings with more than 100 new parking spaces are required to install Level 2 chargers in at least 1 percent of the parking spaces.

“Despite their growing popularity and environmental benefits, lack of charging infrastructure remains a barrier for many wanting to purchase an electric vehicle,” said Supervisor Ken Yeager, President of County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors. “This ordinance makes it easier for residents to replace conventional cars with electric vehicles, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in this county.”

However, not everyone is a supporter of the new ordinance.

Sheldon Haynie, co-owner of Lightheart Cellars in San Martin and outgoing president of the Wineries of Santa Clara Valley Marketing Association, understands the County’s push for advocating such a proposal. However, he said the cost – about $5,000 to install a PEV station – may be too big a financial hit to some of the existing smaller wineries. Additionally, he said such a requirement could possibly dissuade future winery owners from opening up a new business.

Last month, when the ordinance was being proposed, Haynie also wondered (1) who would foot the power cost for charging the vehicles; (2) if the business can charge a fee to use their station, or (3) if it must be free of charge.

For a typical single family home, the installation of pre-wiring during construction is estimated to cost up to $200. In contrast, the same pre-wiring that would be installed after the building is constructed could cost up to $2,000 due to the need to tear up walls or other improvements, according to the County’s press release.

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