The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission will soon get a chance to vote on an ordinance requiring electric car charging capabilities in garages of new residential homes.

The commission seemed split over the idea but was swayed to seek further details in part due to increased electric car production by the automobile industry.

“I’m not sure where I land on this becoming a requirement,” said Community Development Director Diane Shay before presenting the idea to the commission Monday. “But it’s a very green thing to do.”

In August, City Councilman Greg Cappel initiated the idea of adding a new requirement to the city’s building code that would require a 240-volt electrical outlet capable of connecting to an electric vehicle charging station in every new residential garage. The new law would not require charging stations, only the electrical plug capable of operating them.

Installing a 240-volt outlet during home construction would cost around $200, compared to a $2,000 cost after a house is built, Cappel said. He cited a similar requirement in the Boise metropolitan area that correlated with an increase in real estate values.

Cappel won over some naysayers on the City Council to successfully remand the idea to P&Z for more detailed consideration. Shay presented only the basic idea to the commission on Monday, without ordinance language.

P&Z Commissioner Ray McCollum said he opposed the requirement.

“I don’t think it should be mandatory,” McCollum said.

P&Z Commissioner Alexis Lindberg disagreed, saying the low cost of preparing a garage for an electric vehicle during home construction made it a “no brainer.”

P&Z Chair John Kurtz agreed, calling the move a “step forward” that would send a message that Bellevue is concerned about environmental sustainability.

“If Ford Motor Company is going in that direction, it’s probably where we are headed also,” Kurtz said.

Ford announced last year that the F-150 truck, its best-selling model automobile, would be all electric in 2022. To date, there are 150,000 orders for the vehicle.

Shay said based on the majority comments made in favor of the new law, she would bring it back to the P&Z Commission as a draft ordinance during a public hearing in November.

“I could see this as being appropriate for townhome developments also,” Shay said.

The proposed change to city code would also have to be approved by the City Council to become law.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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