• Original Reporting
  • Sources Cited
  • Subject Specialist
Original Reporting This article contains new, firsthand information uncovered by its reporter(s). This includes directly interviewing sources and research / analysis of primary source documents.
Sources Cited As a news piece, this article cites verifiable, third-party sources which have all been thoroughly fact-checked and deemed credible by the Newsroom in accordance with the Civil Constitution.
Subject Specialist This Newsmaker has been deemed by this Newsroom as having a specialized knowledge of the subject covered in this article.

Colorado environmental advocates are pushing for more electric vehicle chargers at new and renovated apartment buildings, in legislation and at the state energy codes board, while the apartment trade pushes back on making housing more expensive to build. 

Democratic legislators and electrification advocates want renters and buyers in multifamily buildings to have equal access to EV chargers, as state and federal officials ratchet up pressure to get nearly a million EVs on Colorado roads by 2030. 

“We want to make sure that as we build new buildings, they’re going to be the kind of buildings where Coloradans can live,” said Rep. Alex Valdez, D-Denver, a co-sponsor of House Bill 1233 on multifamily charging requirements. “And we’ve all seen those great statistics showing that an increasing number of vehicle sales in Colorado are electric vehicles. We want building codes to be accommodating of the choices that they are making.”

The Daily Sun-Up podcast | More episodes

The Colorado Apartment Association, meanwhile, says it agrees reasonable access is a right and even a selling point for apartment builders, but that requiring more chargers than people really need will just push construction costs and access to housing out of reach for more consumers. 

The apartment association has been neutral on the House bill as negotiations for amendments go on. But the trade group has been pushing hard against what it sees as onerous charging minimums proposed at the state codes board. 

“We’re interested in providing those amenities to the point that they’re going to get used, and frankly even a little more so, because to some extent, this is like a swimming pool,” said apartment association senior vice president for government affairs Drew Hamrick. People like buildings with swimming pools even if they never use them, he said. 

But draft codes circulating at the energy codes board, which was established to set EV and solar minimum codes in legislation passed in 2022, would require up to 60% of an apartment building’s parking spaces to either have EV chargers or be wired or prepared with conduit in some way for future EV charging, Hamrick said. That’s too close to the 75% EV-ready mark set in the 2022 legislation that Polis vetoed for good reason, the trade group said in comments to the energy codes board.

The association’s research shows only about 1% of customers actually want to use EV chargers at the moment, Hamrick said. “So, 60% of spaces for 1% of our customers is just a dramatic overkill.” 

The energy board proposal the trade group is objecting to would require 5% of parking spaces to have EV chargers; another 15% to be wired for future EV chargers; and even more spaces with conduit but no wire laid for future access. The apartment association places the cost of an EV charging space at $12,000 for construction, and spaces wired for future chargers at $6,900 each, Hamrick said. 

“People just fall into the mindset of thinking, well, some is good, more must be better,” Hamrick said. “And really the thing is, every one you build that is not necessary is just a waste of money and therefore an increase in housing prices, with no benefit.”

Rep. Valdez acknowledges there has been much back and forth on codes and legislation, including the failed attempt to pass a multifamily EV charging bill in 2022 that Gov. Jared Polis would sign. But adequate charging and access to EV purchase rebates are a key part of environmental justice efforts, advocates say. Apartment residents at all income levels deserve to benefit from clean fuel vehicles that can reduce air pollution that has historically had a disproportionate impact on lower-income and minority neighborhoods, they say. And reliable electric vehicles can save families money on fuel and on annual maintenance. 

Valdez noted downtown Denver is in his legislative district. 

“We have many high-rise buildings, we have many multifamily properties, it’s very dense. These are folks who want electric vehicles,” he said. “These are folks that want to have access to charging at home.”

The energy code board is still holding hearings and meetings on the detailed rules that will fulfill House Bill 1362 from last year, said Colorado Energy Office spokesperson Ari Rosenblum. That legislation set up the board and called for rules in new construction “with provisions for electrical service capacity in 20% or more of the vehicle parking spaces in the garage or parking area,” Rosenblum said, quoting the legislation.

Part of the debate over this year’s EV charging legislation, Valdez said, is over when an extensive renovation of an existing apartment building would trigger a requirement for meeting the EV charging minimums. 

When passed, the board’s energy codes must also be adopted by local governments for construction projects they oversee, Rosenblum said. The energy board’s executive committee will meet Wednesday and May 1 to continue discussions, and must approve and publish the new codes by June 1. 

The Daily Sun-Up podcast | More episodes

Michael Booth

Michael Booth is a Colorado Sun reporter covering health, health policy and the environment. Email: Twitter: @MBoothDenver