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Mill Creek City Council passes electric vehicle infrastructure ordinance

McCollum Park electric vehicle charging station
Electric vehicle charging station at McCollum Park pool

The Mill Creek City Council voted unanimously (Councilmember Bond was absent due to a work commitment) to pass an ordinance regulating electric vehicle infrastructure at their regular March 6th meeting. The city council also discussed this ordinance at the February 28th meeting.

These regulations are required by Washington State law, and are modeled after similar ordinances in other local municipalities.

The City of Mill Creek doesn’t require the installation of electric vehicle infrastructure, but sets standards for electrical vehicle infrastructure in new development as well as already built-out residential, commercial and business properties.

According to Camille Chriest, City of Mill Creek Senior Planner, “The ordinance was designed to be very market-driven as electric vehicles become more popular.” When asked to summarize the ordinance, Tom Rogers, City of Mill Creek Planning Manager, said, "We took a very market-driven approach. We don't want to force them (electric vehicle charging stations) to be there. We want to be ready when the demand actually occurs that we have a mechanism there so we can review it to be sure it meets the public realm. This is a stay out of the way and let things happen approach."

Electrical vehicle infrastructure is defined as either a charging station at which an electric vehicle’s battery can be charged, or a battery exchange station at which an electric vehicle’s depleted battery can be replaced with a fully charged battery.

As Councilmember Mark Harmsworth pointed out in the March 6th meeting, "There are no cars available that do this (exchange batteries) today." Planners included this language in the ordinance to provide for future technology.

In the future event a property owner wants to build a battery exchange station, a Conditional Use Permit is required.

A charging station, as defined in Mill Creek’s new ordinance, is a single public or private parking space that is served by equipment that has as its primary purpose the transfer of electric energy to an electric, or hybrid vehicle’s battery or other electric storage device.

All charging stations require an electric permit, which can be obtained from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

There are three different charging levels by which charging stations are categorized as follows:

  • Level 1 is considered slow charging. Level 1 typically operates on a 15 or 20-amp breaker on 120-volt alternating current. Mill Creek’s ordinance permits Level 1 charging stations in all land use zones including residential.
  • Level 2 is considered medium charging. Level 2 requires a 40 to 100-amp breaker on 208 or 240-volt alternating current. Mill Creek’s ordinance permits Level 2 charging stations in all land use zones including residential.
  • Level 3 is considered fast charging. Level 3 requires a 60-amp or higher dedicated breaker on a 480-volt alternating current or higher three-phase circuit with special grounding equipment. Level 3 charging stations are only permitted in Community Business (CB), Business Park (BP), and Office Park (OP) land use zones according to Mill Creek’s new ordinance.

Mill Creek’s new electric vehicle infrastructure ordinance only requires an electrical permit when Level 1 or 2 electric vehicle charging stations are to be installed in single family attached and detached garages and multi-family tenant-use only garages. These installations don’t require signage or a full design review.

When a Level 2 or Level 3 charging station is to be installed in a public area without an associated development proposal on a property that is subject to a binding site plan; an electrical permit, signage, and a design review are required by the new ordinance.

According to Mill Creek’s new ordinance, “Each charging station space shall be posted with signage indicating the space is for electric vehicle charging purposes. Days and hours of operation shall be included if time limits or tow away provisions are to be enforced by the owner. Information identifying voltage and amperage levels or safety information must also be posted. A phone number or other contact information shall be provided on the charging station for reporting when the equipment is not functioning or other problems are encountered.”

Design reviews involve analysis of accessibility, parking, traffic and location.

All charging stations to be installed as a part of a new development proposal are subject to electrical permits, signage, and design reviews.

The full electric vehicle infrastructure ordinance can be obtained from the City of Mill Creek’s website. Any questions can be directed to the City of Mill Creek’s Planning Department at (425) 745-1891.

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