Person charging vehicle in a garage complex
Enel X has made the charging experience a little bit easier with the installation of 438 charging stations in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) across Canada. Photo: Enel X

Apartment charging for EVs just got a little easier with a notable deal between Enel X, an Italian smart energy solution provider, and Halifax-headquartered property landlords, Killam

A new electric vehicle charger deal between a national multi-unit residential building (MURB) landlord and an international energy management company, with funding from Natural Resources Canada, is bringing 438 Level 2 chargers to 50 apartment buildings across Canada.

Killam Apartment REIT is a Halifax-based property manager, while Enel X is an international energy company with branches in North America that makes JuiceBox EV chargers. The deal with Killam, which received over $730,000 in government funding, brings the total funding to $1.4 million, solidifying Enel X’s presence in Canada.

“Over the last few months we have grown our presence in Canada,” says Giovanni Bertolino, head of e-mobility at Enel X in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada. “This is one of the largest single opportunities that we’ve had in Canada, so far, and it’s particularly important because it is multi-unit dwellings.”

Enel X’s 9.6 kW speed charging (Level 2 chargers) are being installed in existing Killam apartment buildings in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia with 150, 48, 168, 46 and 28 chargers going to buildings in each province, respectively. The JuiceBoxes were delivered this past summer, says Bertolino, and many have been put into operation already with the rest of the lot to be fully online by mid-summer 2022.

“As part of our ESG commitments, we invest in technology that will lower our carbon footprint while also providing value across our portfolio. By optimizing energy costs and bringing value to our residents, this is exactly what these Enel X smart chargers allow us to do,” said Andrew Kent, developments director, Killam Apartment Reit in a press release.

A growing need for MURB charging

The 2016 Canadian census showed that at least 33 per cent of Canadian dwellings are multi-unit residential buildings. Since then that number is projected to have increased.

Apartment-dwelling Canadians from coast-to-coast are struggling to navigate the choppy waters of negotiating EV charging into MURBs, which makes an announcement like the Killam-Enel X deal even more meaningful.

“We are bringing our products and our solutions to support that acceleration of EV adoption,” says Bertolino. “With our solutions, Killam will be able to provide access to chargers to their tenants (and guests of their tenants) in those buildings. And in future the software is ready for more advanced, smart charging implementations that we already have in the United States and, hopefully, will become a reality soon in Canada.”

Enel X’s more sophisticated energy management plans are seen to best advantage in California where, up and down the state, Enel X is managing or “leveraging”, says Bertolino, EVs and their charging cycles to bring the most benefit to the grid and customers.

These benefits include managing grid load to offset charging to off-peak hours, measuring how much energy is being generated from sustainable sources and ensuring EVs are charging off the cleanest energy possible and, particularly in condo, apartment buildings and multi-unit residential buildings, multiple EVs can be aggregated to form virtual power plants.

Bundling EVs to be active grid players

It’s in this final option that Bertolino sees the most benefit for EV drivers that are using Enel X’s JuiceBox chargers.

“We offer a reward program called JuicePoints. Through this program drivers are giving us the ability to curtail their load at times of pickup, while still making sure that the car is charged at times when they want to leave,” explains Bertolino.

“Our algorithm defines what flexibility that single charger allows, then we aggregate all these charges across all of California and we know that we have a certain amount of dispatchable load that we can schedule on the demand response market. The revenues that we get from participating in the demand response market we use to fund the rewards for customers so that they get a monetary benefit for giving us access to that flexibility.”

Enel X is one of several players interested in exploring the possibilities of an aggregated virtual power plant in Canada, but so far, regulatory hurdles are preventing more than pre-approved pilot programs to run. But that’s not to say it will always be the case. Enel X is building Canadian potential into their business plans and step one of the journey is to do many more MURB charging partnerships.

“Canada is a very appealing and growing market for us. I think all the policies that are coming through from the federal government down to the different provinces is going to help a lot in EV adoption,” says Bertolino. “I think it’s very exciting for us. We’re looking more and more towards commercial and also bringing DC fast charging to Canada.”

Examining Prime Minister Trudeau’s clean, net-zero electrical grid goal for Canada