June 27, 2024

Colorado Electric Vehicle Charging Permitting Study

IREC authored this report for Colorado Energy Office to help improve local permitting policies and practices for the development of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in anticipation of growing demand.

Guidance for Local Government Land Use Policies to Facilitate EV Charging Development

The purpose of this report is to improve local permitting policies and practices to facilitate the development of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in anticipation of growing demand. To inform this report, the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) conducted a stakeholder engagement process in 2023. IREC authored this report for Colorado Energy Office and supported the stakeholder engagement process.

The report focuses on zoning review, which was identified as the greatest barrier in local government permit approval through interviews with electric vehicle charging providers. Key zoning topics covered include use designation, parking, siting and design standards, and application and approval processes. In each of these topic areas, the report identifies current challenges and potential solutions.

  • Use designation (page 8) deals with how charging projects are categorized, in which zoning districts they are allowed, and what permit approval procedures are required.
  • Minimum parking space requirements (page 10) can create barriers to EV charger development. The relationship between EV charging and existing parking was addressed by Colorado House Bill 23-1233, and local governments are in the process of updating zoning codes to comply with this law.
  • There is often confusion about which siting and design standards (page 11) apply to EV charging projects, or standards may include subjective criteria that rely on varied interpretations by planning staff.
  • A final key focus of this report are permit application and approval processes (page 14). Establishing clear and transparent guidelines reduces confusion for applicants, reduces permitting timelines, and can save staff time for local governments and applicants.

Finally, this report describes the ways that the State of Colorado can support local governments in adopting and applying EV charging specific permitting processes and standards, including by developing model codes and guidance documents, providing consultant support for code adoption, and supporting local government staff training.

Appendices include case studies of two local governments that have updated their zoning requirements to improve the approval process for EV charger projects (Appendix A), as well as the survey results from the stakeholder engagement process (Appendix B).