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Palo Alto: Proposal to outfit new homes for electric vehicle chargers surges ahead

New single-family homes in Palo Alto could soon come rigged for electric vehicle chargers.

The city council’s Policy and Services Committee enthusiastically endorsed an ordinance Tuesday night that would require developers to install all the components needed for a single “Level 2” station.

Peter Pirnejad, the city’s development services director, said the ordinance would add about $500 to the cost of a new home.

“It’s a nominal cost,” he said.

The price tag caught some committee members by surprise. But they all agreed it was a bargain when compared to the cost of retrofitting an existing home, which Pirnejad said is about $5,000.

“It seems like a lot,” said Council Member Liz Kniss. “Maybe it’s just the cost of doing business.”

Sven Thesen, who installed the nation’s first curbside residential charger at his Stanford Avenue home, said the ordinance is more expensive than others because it offers flexibility. Developers aren’t required to use one type of wire, he explained. Instead, a plastic hollow pipe is installed, giving homeowners the freedom to easily swap in the wire of their choice.

Homeowners in cities with ordinances that specify the type of wire face significant costs when they want to upgrade.

“They do have to bust out the sheetrock and put the sheetrock back in,” Thesen said. “Here, all we have to do is pull that lower amperage wire out and install the higher amperage wire.”
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