Initial Considerations for Planning Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

Existing policies and regulations can potentially create challenges for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure development, so an important first step is to become familiar with them and identify areas where modified language might be necessary to remove barriers to infrastructure development. Public input is essential, and community engagement and outreach should be incorporated throughout the process so any changes are aligned with community needs. Helpful resources on how to facilitate meaningful public involvement and participation include the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Promising Practices for Meaningful Public Involvement in Transportation Decision-Making and the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation’s Community Engagement Help Sheet.

State/Regional Government Role

State and local governments can support EV-friendly planning and regulations in several ways.

  • Create regional consistency by developing resources in coordination with planning organizations or other entities involved in regional or statewide coordination, such as Clean Cities and Communities coalitions.

  • Consider statewide legislation that requires or incentivizes local governments to adopt building codes with EV-ready requirements, a minimum number of accessible charging stations, or a streamlined permitting process. A statewide mandate can accelerate local adoption and is another option to create regional consistency.

  • Conduct targeted outreach to share available resources and provide training to local governments. For example, state or regional governments could conduct outreach with communities along alternative fuel corridors where state-funded EV charging station installation is being considered.

  • Maintain an EV webpage and partner with local organizations to promote available resources, including tools, presentations, and guidance, that local governments can use in their EV charging infrastructure planning efforts. The webpage can also include basic information on EVs and EV charging stations for residents/consumers, including information on available incentives for purchasing/leasing an EV or installing an EV charger at home.

  • Provide funding support for community planning around EV infrastructure and EV charging station buildout. For example, provide EV infrastructure grants for public infrastructure.

Local Government Role

Local governments can help their jurisdictions become more EV friendly through the steps outlined below. Note that within each step there are additional detailed processes that will be different and unique depending on the local context.

Steps local government can take to help their jurisdictions become electric vehicle friendly

1. Build a team of champions to lead the process of increasing EV charging infrastructure development.

  • Identify a core team of people in your community passionate about increasing EV charging infrastructure and designate a leader to spearhead the effort.
  • Involve city and/or county planners, engineers, relevant government boards (i.e., zoning, parking, energy), electric utilities, Clean Cities and Communities coalitions, and other local stakeholders.
  • Reach out to your state and regional contacts (e.g., state agencies leading National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program efforts; local, regional, or state entities leading Charging and Fueling Infrastructure (CFI) Discretionary Grant Program efforts; state energy office; state department of transportation) for support and resources.
  • Establish a community advisory council to represent community voices during the plan or policy development process.

2. Identify relevant plans, policies, and regulations that could impact EV infrastructure development.

  • Search building codes, parking and zoning ordinances, transportation plans, permitting guides/processes to identify the sections pertinent to EV infrastructure development. Collect documents from multiple levels of government, including state, county, and municipal (including adjacent municipalities), as well as metropolitan planning organizations.
  • Gather approved incentives related to EVs, EV charging stations, and EV charging policy/climate action plans.
  • Determine how often transportation planning documents are updated—such as comprehensive plans, long range transportation plans, design guidelines, capital improvement plans, climate action plans—and identify when action should be taken to incorporate EV infrastructure planning updates in the next version.

3. Determine if changes are needed to existing plans, policies, and regulations or if a new EV strategy should be developed to support the adoption of EV charging stations.

  • Consult with a regional planning organization to facilitate coordination among adjacent communities and regional partners when developing EV strategy documents to foster regional consistency.
  • Review available tools and resources to help in the process of creating EV friendly plans. Some of these tools and resources are summarized in the subsequent sections. State NEVI and CFI programs, and Clean Cities and Communities coalition contacts can also provide location-specific resources.

4. Develop roadmap to update plans, policies, and regulations.

  • Develop an action plan or EV readiness plan to document strategies needed for the community's electrification effort. These plans should include goals to support the acceleration of EV adoption and installation of EV charging infrastructure.
    • Incorporate EV charging needs, including needs for e-micromobility, into all levels of planning documents to help prioritize funding needs and capitalize on opportunities to install EV charging stations in strategic areas.
    • Require inclusion of EV charging stations in transportation planning documents, from high-level documents such as the comprehensive plan to subarea planning or corridor studies.
    • Establish local goals to electrify government fleets, such as municipal fleets, school buses, and transit buses, and look for opportunities to create additional public EV charging hubs that can support both fleets and/or personal vehicles.
  • Identify relevant building codes, parking codes, zoning codes, and permitting processes that could impact EV charging infrastructure development.
    • If applicable, analyze whether these codes and processes support or hinder EV charging infrastructure development.
    • If they hinder infrastructure development, identify what changes need to be made.

EV Planning Frameworks

Local, regional, or state jurisdictions should consider developing an EV readiness plan, EV roadmap, and/or EV action plan as a first step to becoming EV ready. These plans typically include educational information on EVs and EV charging stations, as well as a strategy to develop a cohesive EV charging station network. Refer to the EV Readiness page for guidance on how state and local leaders can prepare for the growing number of EVs on the road by developing EV charging infrastructure, policies, and services.

Funding for transportation projects is often allocated based on planning documents that are not specific to EVs, such as:

  • Comprehensive plans/transportation plans
  • Design guidelines
  • Capital improvement plans
  • Climate action plans
  • Other planning studies (subarea, land use planning, corridor, curb management, etc.).

Including EV charging in these documents can open additional opportunities for funding to support future EV charging. As such, jurisdictions should ensure their EV readiness plan informs these other plans. Including EV charging infrastructure as part of planned transportation projects can also reduce the cost of building out a charging network by avoiding the need for a separate, retrofit project to add EV chargers, which can be more expensive.

To start developing an EV readiness plan, use this Clean Energy to Communities (C2C) Program guide. For best practices on incorporating community engagement throughout the planning process, refer to the Joint Office Community Engagement Help Sheet. Another resource is Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and funding Urban Electric Mobility Infrastructure, a technical resource developed by the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Joint Office. This toolkit outlines several levels of EV mobility planning, including corridor-level planning, community-level planning, site-level planning, fleet infrastructure planning, and micromobility infrastructure planning. Lastly, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Rural Electric Mobility Infrastructure is meant to be a one-stop resource to help rural communities scope, plan, and fund EV charging infrastructure.