Electric Vehicles California

In this Sept. 17, 2015, file photo, Darshan Brahmbhatt, plugs a charger into his electric vehicle at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District charging station in Sacramento.

Illinois lawmakers moved forward Tuesday with legislation that would require high-voltage outlets to be installed in most new construction, renovations, and a significant portion of all parking garages to allow for electric car charging.

House Bill 4284 is similar to a mandate in California. It requires any new residential construction to have a dedicated circuit that runs to the garage or all parking spaces to make it “electric vehicle ready.” 

The measure "provides that a new or renovated residential building is required to have a certain percentage, based on the number of units in the residential building, of its total parking spaces either electric vehicle ready or electric vehicle capable,” according to the text of the bill.

Any new residential property with six or fewer parking spaces would have to have a dedicated outlet for each spot under the terms of the bill.

Fewer than 8,000 electric vehicles were registered in Illinois in 2017, according to the U.S. Department of Energy but the Illinois Secretary of State's office says there are 19,215 as of January 15th. Electric vehicles can use a normal outlet, but charge faster with a 240-volt outlet similar to an electric dryer outlet. 

Sponsor Robyn Gabel said Tuesday that requiring most parking spaces to be wired to accept electric vehicle charging would represent a step away from light use combustible engines that account for the majority of carbon pollution in the state.

“Greater electric vehicle adoption will immediately cut transportation emissions with today’s grid and can completely eliminate emissions with a clean grid,” she said.

For commercial parking spots, advocates estimated that making one “EV ready” would cost $900 for each outlet, but only if done from the onset. Retrofitting would be significantly more expensive.

Republican Deanne Mazzochi, who related the cost her company incurred for attempting to wire three spaces in a parking garage reached more than $20,000, said the measure would increase the cost for new constructions, renovations and garages.

“This is an extremely costly proposal,” she said.

The bill passed and now awaits a vote on the House floor.

Correction: Rep. Mazzochi estimated the cost of wiring three parking spaces was "well over $20,000," and required $1 million in insurance coverage, not that the total cost was over $1 million. Data on EV ownership has also been updated to reflect more recent figures.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois and Arizona government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Central Illinois and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.