Condo-dwelling electric vehicle owners push government on issue of access to home charging in shared buildings
British Columbia is taking steps to address the “right-to-charge” as tenants and building operators continue to grapple with the issue.
Over 40 per cent of British Columbians live in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs). Unfortunately, rules and rights around home charging of EVs in shared buildings are murky.
“The folks…mostly in apartment buildings or condos, are really facing challenges and barriers when it comes to having bought an electric vehicle,” says Jess Dawe, a senior policy advisor at Clean Energy Canada.
“The province is starting to dig into this issue because they’ve heard from stakeholders and residents that this is a challenge they are facing.”
No legislative timeline
There is no concrete timeline for when provincial legislation is expected, though a handful of municipalities have already drafted their own rules.
Vancouver and Richmond require residential parking spaces in buildings constructed after the bylaws were passed (January 2019 and December 2017) to “feature energized outlets capable of providing ‘Level 2’ EV charging or higher to the parking space.”
Burnaby has a similar municipal bylaw amendment and in September the District of Saanich City Council passed a motion regarding charging infrastructure and new builds that goes into effect January 2020.
“The most important thing we need to do is implement “right-to-charge” regulations, which is done by the province,” says Travis Allan, vice-president of public affairs and general counsel at Flo.
“It’s about making sure all Canadians have the chance to buy and charge an electric vehicle where they live.”
Dawe and Allan are offering guidance to B.C.’s provincial government and encouraging policymakers to embrace EV-friendly regulations.
They point to Ontario as the example of how to tackle the issue.
In 2018, the province passed an EV charging bylaw under the 1998 Condominium Act. It stipulates condo corporations can’t reject a reasonable application for EV-charging outlet installation as long as it fulfils certain requirements.
Dawe and Allan would like to see B.C. legislators draft a similar policy for condos and apartments (known as strata housing in B.C.) with Dawe calling Ontario’s pioneering rules “a good first step”.
“We know that over 70 per cent of EV charging happens at home. We know that is what’s convenient,” says Dawe.
“It’s a deciding factor [in the purchase] if people have access to reliable charging.”
Right-to-charge rules ensure that #ElectricVehicle owners can install and use charging equipment in their own parking stall. They also ensure that everyone involved (stratas, landlords, residents) has clear set of rules on who pays costs to install, operate and maintain equip.— Ian Neville ? (@IanN_Van) June 11, 2019
B.C.’s consultation process is essential in identifying not only what other places have done right, but dispelling EV misconceptions at the government level.
“[Concerns] seem to vary from things like price to the building — if it doesn’t have the capacity to accommodate the extra load — to the strata being concerned about who is going to take care of these utility bills,” says Dawe.
Only utility bills for EV driving tenants will increase and smart-energy solutions allow for rolling power distribution so electrical panels aren’t overwhelmed.
The other major concern Dawe and Allan address with stakeholders is the cost of building the infrastructure.
Outlet installation ranges from $2,000 to $20,000 per on-site complexities, but most fall around $6,000. The B.C. government offers up to $2,000 towards each Level 2 charger, but many stratas say the costs don’t fit into their annual budgets.
“We are obviously facing a big challenge right now,” says Dawe, “but there is precedent for how to deal with it, there is a solution so let’s unpack that.”
Incentive on all sides
“B.C. has made it clear they are progressing with a 100 per cent zero emissions program,” says Allan, arguing this is why there is incentive on all sides to transition to EV-friendly.
“As more and more people adopt EVs, it becomes very important that strata and condominiums offer charging at home. People will stop buying them if they don’t.”