FRANKFORT, Ky. — As the state continues to expand charging stations for electric vehicles, action in the Kentucky House would aim to “protect” traditional gas stations. House Bill 581 would prohibit local governments from favoring EV (electric vehicle) charging stations over traditional filling stations in zoning ordinances.

What You Need To Know

  • HB 581 would prohibit local governments from adopting zoning ordinances that favor EV charging over fuel stations 

  • Sponsor of the bill Rep. Ken Upchurch, R-Monticello, says the free market should dictate what station gets built where

  • Evolve KY, a EV enthusiast nonprofit says EV owners and hobbyists want to co-exist with gas. fueled car drivers 

  • The U.S. Department of Energy estimates there are 2.4 million registered EVs across the country

State Representative Ken Upchurch, R-Monticello said HB 581 prohibits local governments from favoring electric vehicles over gas vehicles. He said they’re trying to nip overreaching local control in the bud.

“What we’re seeing is some cities across the state are looking at some ordinances that would prohibit gas stations in zones that have traditionally been okay for gas stations,” Upchurch said.

Upchurch points to an ordinance in Lexington that would place limits on filling stations in neighborhood business zoning but not electric vehicles. He said this bill isn’t anti-EV but gives consumers the keys to decide.

“What we want is an equal playing field in cities across the Commonwealth to where the market would dictate that you need to build an EV station you could build an EV station, but right next to it you could also build a fueling station,” Upchurch said.

Evolve KY is nonprofit made up of EV owners and enthusiasts. According to its website the group promotes the benefits of electric and alternative fuel vehicles to Kentuckians. Mike Proctor, publicity chairman for the organization, said he is confused about the intent of the bill.

“We’re not trying to take over filling stations or compete with filling stations, we’re trying to peacefully coexist with the infrastructure for internal combustion engine cars,” Proctor said.

According to Proctor, there are two types of chargers destination chargers, which take hours for a full charge and highway chargers, notably Tesla’s super chargers, which can get a full charge in 15 minutes.

“If they’re trying to compare filling stations with those fast chargers, then that kind of makes sense, but I’m not looking to try and put eight of those highway chargers in any business area anywhere in the state,” Proctor said.

Proctor is concerned the wording of the bill would also pertain to community chargers found at many city halls, YMCAs and even the Kentucky State Capitol. He doubled down on the potential benefits of driving EVs.

“If more and more folks are using electricity and not gasoline, then maybe the price of gasoline will stabilize and maybe the U.S. can become self-sufficient,” Proctor said.

According to the US Department of Energy there are just over 2.4 million registered electric vehicles in the country. Upchurch says he supports EVs but points to nearly the entire population of the state driving gasoline cars as to why the playing field needs to be evened out.

“If you limit where you can build gas stations to the point where it would be discriminatory, then we are preventing a station that would locate there which is also a great source of revenue for our road funds,” Upchurch said.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s latest numbers, Kentucky only has 7,560 EVs registered in the state.

The bill passed committee favorably on Wednesday and is awaiting a vote on the full House floor.