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A row of Teslas charges at a Tesla Supercharger station in Thornton on Friday Dec. 4, 2020. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday evening vetoed a bill that would have forced developers of new large commercial and multifamily residential buildings to set aside a portion of parking spaces to serve as electric vehicle charging stations.

“I fully understand that with current technology, installing EV charging up front can be less expensive over the long run than subsequent adaptation,” the Democrat wrote in a letter announcing his veto decision. “However, requiring EV installation up front also leads to greater costs now, at the very time that Coloradans are struggling with increased housing costs.”

Polis said House Bill 1218, which passed with almost no Republican support, had “inflexible mandates” and could be premature as electric vehicle technology rapidly advances. He also noted the other steps he and the legislature have taken to increase electric-vehicle usage in Colorado and combat climate change.

The veto is notable because it’s an example of Polis trying to balance his clean-energy ambitions with his election-year push to try to rein in Coloradans’ cost of living. It’s also an example of how the governor has clashed at times with Democrats in the legislature, some of whom have tried to be more aggressive in their approach to addressing climate change.

House Bill 1218 was sponsored by Rep. Alex Valdez, a Denver Democrat, and Sen. Faith Winter, a Westminster Democrat, and Sen. Kevin Priola, a Henderson Republican and EV evangelist.

“I think sometimes when you get a veto it shows that you are really trying to push policy that’s trying to change the paradigm,” Valdez said. “I generally think it was just pressure from special interests on the governor that got us the veto.”

Valdez said the legislation was simply trying to prepare Colorado for the electric vehicle transition. He said people who want an electric car in his district can’t buy one because they don’t live in a building where they can charge it.

“This bill is just about getting wires to parking spaces,” he said.

Specifically, the measure would have required developers of new multifamily-housing buildings with at least three units to set aside 20% of the structure’s parking spaces to double as electric-vehicle charging stations and 50% of the spaces to be wired to some day serve as charging stations. Developers of commercial buildings with at least 25,000 square feet of floor space would have been required to set aside 10% of parking spaces to double as electric-vehicle charging stations and 25% of spaces to be wired to someday serve as charging stations.

Large, mixed-use buildings — where there are both homes and commercial space — would have also been subject to the rules for commercial buildings. Existing buildings that fit under the bill’s parameters for which renovations were being made to more than 50% of the structure would also have fallen under the requirements.

Single-family homebuilders  are already required under a 2020 law to offer electric-vehicle charging stations as part of new construction.

The bill was supported by Tesla, the electric car company, as well as environmental groups, including Colorado Communities for Climate Action and the Sierra Club. It was opposed by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Xcel Energy, the Colorado Association of Home Builders and the Colorado Apartment Association.

Polis said in his veto letter that he wants to work with the legislature on a “future variation of this bill that would provide more flexibility for changing technologies and that we could be clear with research would save people money.”

Priola, one of the bill’s sponsors, found the governor’s words reassuring.

“While I disagree with the governor’s veto, I look forward to addressing any and all concerns and following through with the governor’s commitment to bring back the concept next session,” he said in a statement to The Sun.

The governor has vetoed at least four bills that passed the legislature this year, though House Bill 1218 is the most substantial measure he has rejected thus far. The other bills he vetoed this year dealt with homeowner’s associations reserve funds, a mental health program for county coroners and mortuary workers, and regulations around music therapists.

Colorado Sun staff writer Michael Booth contributed to this report.

Jesse Paul is a Denver-based political reporter and editor at The Colorado Sun, covering the state legislature, Congress and local politics. He is the author of The Unaffiliated newsletter and also occasionally fills in on breaking news coverage....