Electric Vehicles are Coming - How to Prepare Your Condominium for the Surge
Electric Vehicles and Your Community
For more information, check out the recording from our recent webinar: Electric Vehicles and Your Community.
The roadblocks to installing EV charging stations in Ontario condominiums were removed when changes were made to the Condominium Act, 1998, in May of 2018. As anticipated, since those changes were made, sales of electric vehicles have increased. As of October of 2021, there are 66,757 electric vehicles registered in Ontario.
The Canadian government has set a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sales to be zero-emission by 2035. Provincially, Ontario is aiming for one out of every three automobiles sold to be electric by 2030. Meaning condominiums can no longer ignore the need to include EV charging stations on site.
For existing condominiums, the addition of EV charging infrastructure and stations can be a large and expensive undertaking. It's not something that can happen overnight. So, where should a condo board even start? The following steps will help simplify the planning process.
Do Your Research
Some key research needs to be done before taking on a major project. When it comes to the addition of EV charging stations to your condominium, it’s vital to get a sense of your community’s current EV charging needs. You also need to consider how those needs may change in the next few years.
Another important question to ask yourself is what you want EV charging to look like in your condominium. Do communal charging stations located in visitor parking make the most sense for your corporation? Or should you be preparing the infrastructure to allow for owners to have their own charging station in their dedicated parking spot?
Even answering these questions can be difficult. That’s why it’s crucial to research potential vendors that can help you navigate this process from ideation through completion of installation. Your property manager can assist you with this research as they can lean on their peers for meaningful insight.
When performing your initial research, it’s also important to review your condo’s governing documents. While there won’t necessarily be anything that speaks specifically to EV charging, there could be a declaration that states visitor parking can only be used as such. Meaning if you were considering creating a communal EV charging station in your visitor parking, that may not be a viable option.
Have a Load Evaluation Performed
First and foremost, you need to know and understand the current electrical capabilities in your condominium when planning for the addition of EV charging stations. That’s why a load evaluation performed by a third-party engineer is the first thing that needs to take place, regardless of how far you are planning to incorporate this infrastructure into the future. This load evaluation will establish if your condominium corporation has the electrical capacity and infrastructure to handle the installation and use of EV charging stations, as well as how many. It will also help determine how your corporation can upgrade its current infrastructure to accommodate more EV charging stations in the future.
Schedule a Site Assessment
Once the load evaluation is performed and you know the capabilities of your existing electric infrastructure and how many EV charging stations it can handle, a site assessment needs to be completed. Electric panels need to be installed in the condominiums parking garage to accommodate any number of EV charging stations. Determining the location for these panels is never a one size fits all approach as all parking garages are different sizes and layouts. This can look especially different for townhouse complexes that have outdoor parking, which is why this step is so important. Performed by the vendor you’ve decided to work with on this project, the site assessment will determine where the panels should be located. It will also establish how many panels your parking structure will require, as well as the cost and timeline.
Both the load evaluation and site assessment will raise several questions for the board. Your chosen vendor will answer all your questions and be the true definition of a partner in this process.
Budget for the Project
Once the site assessment has been completed and you have a good idea of what this project will cost (the typical range being from $50,000 - $100,000), the board must decide where the funding for this infrastructure is coming from. Because this infrastructure is new and not considered a repair or replacement, the reserve fund is ineligible in most cases.
If this project is not something your corporation can currently afford, you might consider putting any operating fund surplus aside for this specific project. A special assessment is an option but might not go over well with residents that don’t see the necessity for EV charging stations. In most cases, it’s best to consult with your condo corporation’s attorney before making the final funding decision.
Develop an EV Charging Policy for Your Condominium
When the necessary infrastructure for EV charging stations for your condo is ready, it’s essential to have an EV charging policy in place. This will help minimize the work involved for both the board and property manager when a resident reaches out about wanting an EV charging station.
Typically, once the main panels for EV charging have been installed, it will be the individual unit owner responsible for not only purchasing their EV charger but also paying for the installation of that charger in their parking space and the wiring back to the main distribution centre.
The policy should also outline the guidelines for the application process as well as the electricity metering and payment process. In most cases, the payment for used electricity will be looked after by a third party that will collect payment and then provide it back to the condo corporation.
Work closely with the condo corporation’s lawyer to ensure that nothing is overlooked when creating the policy.
EV Charging Infrastructure Adds Value to Your Condominium
While the necessity to accommodate electric vehicles at your condo corporation may not be immediate, with a set deadline for the takeover of electric vehicles, it’s better to get ahead of the need. Including EV charging stations now has its benefits as it increases property values and creates happy owners and tenants. It also keeps your community from being overlooked by potential buyers that may already drive electric vehicles.