Major Confusion About Missouri’s EV Charging Station Bill
Judging by numerous articles I’ve seen recently, there is major confusion about House Bill (HB) 1584 that could use some clearing up.
HB 1584 stipulates that any municipality requiring property owners to install EV charging stations pay for those installation costs. Some municipalities in Missouri created requirements for property owners to build EV charging stations on new construction and major renovations—this law would ensure that private property owners aren’t forced to bear the costs of government-mandated construction.
Retrofitting an existing parking space with EV charger equipment can cost thousands of dollars per space, so sorting out who pays for what is not unreasonable. Despite what some opponents claim, this bill doesn’t “block” EV market growth; it simply ensures that private property owners aren’t told where and when to spend more money.
Another objection to this bill is related to costs. It costs much less to outfit a parking space with EV charger equipment during construction than after. Some estimates say installation during construction rather than after could cut costs by 75 percent. And with thousands more EVs hitting the road each year, opponents of the bill claim it would be better to require building charging stations as cheaply as possible to accommodate EV market growth.
This gets it backward. It may indeed be cheaper to install chargers during original construction, which is something property owners can take into account if they wish to respond to a growing EV market. Accommodating an emerging class of customers is standard business practice and doesn’t require any mandates.
Lost in the discussion surrounding HB 1584 are several better policies state and local policymakers can pursue to improve the EV market. For charging stations, municipalities can streamline their zoning rules to allow EV chargers in all zoning districts, review EV charger installation permits in days rather than weeks, and make information about the permitting process much more transparent. To make it easier to purchase EVs, state lawmakers can allow Missourians to buy EVs directly from manufacturers rather than forcing them to go through a franchised dealership (which many new EV companies do not have).
HB 1584 is a step in the right direction, but it’s a narrow bill that only deals with protecting private actors from an onerous government mandate for EV charging station construction. I’m hopeful that future EV policy discussions can turn from talks of fines and mandates to free markets.