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Fairfax County may extend fee waivers for installing electric vehicle chargers

An electric vehicle charger and designated parking space in Tysons (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax County may continue waiving permitting and installation fees for electric vehicle chargers, following an initial trial period of 18 months that showed mixed results.

At a land use policy committee meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 30), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay said he hopes to extend the trial period by one year.

Despite losing revenue from the waived fees, the county should find ways to reduce barriers for EVs, particularly since there are already many existing barriers, McKay argued.

“From a value statement standpoint, being able to say that we do not charge [for] permits to encourage people to adopt EVs, I think, should be our standard,” he said.

It was unclear how much eliminating the fees incentivized installation of EV charging equipment — if at all, county staff said in a presentation. Between October 2022 and October 2023, fees for 38 commercial permits and 858 residential permits were waived.

The Dranesville and Sully districts had the most residential permits issued, while the Providence District led the way when it came to commercial permits. The 38 commercial permits issued during the waiver period represented an increase from 19 permits in 2021, 11 in 2020 and just one in 2019.

The data doesn’t include the number of chargers installed through each permit.

John Friedman, an engineer in the county’s Department of Land Development Services (LDS), said it’s difficult to directly correlate the fee waiver with EV utilization.

“We had hoped to be able to collect enough information to determine whether or not having a zero permit fee actually incentivizes installation. We weren’t able to do that because you don’t actually know why people are doing things,” Friedman said, adding that staff were surprised by the relatively high number of residential permits.

The county missed out on $125,000 in revenue over the trial period — a loss that Friedman was concerned likely needs to be offset by increases in other LDS fees.

“The big issue for us is the lost revenue,” Friedman said.

Braddock District Supervisor James Walkinshaw said the societal benefits of EV further the county’s equity goals.

“Everybody benefits if even an affluent person decides to move forward with an EV,” Walkinshaw said.

McKay hopes to file a board matter for consideration at the board’s May meeting, giving county staff time to continue evaluating the impact of the fee waiver on utilization. The current fee waiver pilot program will end on May 1.

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