Metro, Newton

Zoning and Planning Committee Discusses Newton’s EV Charging Station Requirements

Newton’s Zoning and Planning Committee discussed potential requirements for electric vehicle (EV) charging station infrastructure at a Wednesday night meeting. 

The Newton EV Task Force presented updates on its examinations of EV charging stations in residential and commercial lots. 

The City Council adopted EV-related sustainability measures in 2017, requiring that at least 10 percent of parking spaces in new green developments bigger than 20,000 square feet be equipped with EV charging stations. It also requires that another 10 percent must be compatible for EV parking spaces in the future. 

The maximum number of required chargers per project is currently 40.

But nearby communities have implemented even stricter requirements. In Boston, for example, 25 percent of spaces in larger developments must have an EV charger, while 75 percent must be adaptable for EV parking spaces in the future. 

Massachusetts’ adoption of Advanced Clean Cars II standards means residents will not be able to purchase a new gas-powered car in Massachusetts after 2035. Five percent of vehicles currently registered in Newton are EVs, and this number is expected to reach 10 percent by 2025.

“Newton is an early adopter, or stronger adopter, of [electric] vehicles,” said Ward 6 Councilor-at-Large Alicia Bowman. “And so for that reason, we probably want to stay ahead of the curve on this.” 

Task Force member George Kirby said changes to requirements would have implications for new developments in the city. 

“One of the first things that developers do is to sign up for a certain amount of power to be allocated to the development, and once that’s done, it’s very difficult to change later on,” Kirby said.

The new Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code allows for EV charging stations powered by an Automatic Load Management System (ALMS) to fulfill state requirements, making charging less load-bearing while supplying electricity to multiple stations. 

The committee, however, was divided as to the practicality of relying on ALMS moving forward. 

“I don’t have a complete understanding of how [ALMS] work and how they would interface with what we’re trying to do with this ordinance,” said energy project manager Bill Ferguson. “They provide for a lot of charges on one circuit. … I believe the charge is gonna be a lot slower, and I just want to make sure we understand how it would affect the percent of spaces that we should be recommending.”

The committee agreed to revisit the proposal after the task force presents a more specific recommendation at the next meeting.

“It’s in the interest of the city to address the issue sooner rather than later as we move forward with permitting for new projects,” Ferguson said.

October 2, 2022