Portland’s EV electric car problem

Mia Tiwana,
Research Associate at Cascade Policy Institute

Portland City Council is trying its best to bring electric vehicles to the masses. But by mistake, they’re really saying, “Let them eat cake.”

Last year, Oregon passed HB 2180, which requires a fifth of new multi-family residential parking spots to be “Electric Vehicle Ready,” meaning they have the electrical capacity to host EV chargers. Not to be outdone, Portland proposed the “EV Ready Code,” increasing the EV Ready requirement to 50% of spaces.

The kicker is the code doesn’t even require developers to build chargers; they’re only required to build electrical capacity for the chargers. This means tenants will pay more rent for wires in the ground. If a tenant wants a charger installed, they still have to pay big prices through higher rents or add-ons. Total charger installation costs between $7,000 and $10,000 per parking space.

Fewer than 3% of vehicle registrations in Multnomah County are for electric vehicles, so EV expansion has a long way to go. Right now, EVs are too great an extravagance for low-income residents.

The EV Ready Code isn’t exactly a cakewalk to EV expansion. City Council should reject the EV Ready Code and stick to policies that allow residents to afford their homes and their cars.

Mia Tiwana is a Research Associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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