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Is Your Condominium Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations?
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is now. – Chinese Proverb
The growth in the electric vehicle market is happening as we speak. If your condominium has not already received a request from an owner to install an electric vehicle charging station (EVCS), it likely will soon.
There are a number of simple steps your condominium should be taking to ensure it is ready when EVCS requests begin to arrive:
1. Understand that your condominium cannot refuse an EVCS installation request except in very narrow circumstances – If an owner approaches the Board with a reasonable installation request, the Board will likely have to grant it. The only option that a Board has, in most cases, is to ask that the installation meet certain requirements.
2. Be prepared to act quickly when an EVCS installation request is submitted - The Condominium Act gives condominiums 60 days to respond to the request – if the condominium fails to respond, (either accepting the owner's installation plan, proposing an alternative installation plan, or rejecting the installation plan) the request is deemed to be accepted. Once the request is accepted there are further time limits for entering into an agreement with the owner, which must be registered on title to the owner's unit. It is not unusual for an owner's installation plan to lack sufficient detail to be properly considered by the Board. In these cases, the Board's response can require the unit owner to provide additional detail so that the Board can fully consider the implications of the owner's installation plan, and the 60- day period for the Board to respond will begin to run only once that information has been received.
3. Have a load study commissioned by an electrical consultant and determine how the electrical infrastructure of the Corporation can be most efficiently managed – Upon learning of a condominium's load capacity, many Boards have elected to install a dedicated electricity panel for EVCSs to connect to, and require that any EVCS to be installed be networked and capable of power management. This type of EVCS electrical infrastructure can limit the available electrical load and distribute it amongst all connected EVCSs. In many cases this can double the number of EVCSs which can be accommodated and helps to ensure that the condominium's load capacity is not exceeded. Many Boards are now completing load studies and taking steps to install EVCS electrical infrastructure in advance of receiving an owner's request for installation of an EVCS.
4. Build in time for owner consultation and notice – While section 97 of the Condominium Act (which governs additions, alterations or improvements to the common elements) does not apply to EVCS electrical infrastructure installations by a condominium, there are still notice requirements which, in most cases, require a Board to give owners 60 days' notice before the EVCS electrical infrastructure can be installed. And of course, as a matter of good governance, Boards should be consulting and informing owners before undertaking major expenditures.
5. Pass an EVCS policy – While this is not a requirement, having a policy that provides owners with a plain language explanation of the process for applying to install an EVCS and, perhaps more importantly, any special requirements that apply to your specific condominium will help to streamline the installation process.. Boards should consider, for example:
a. Whether it will mandate specific technical requirements for EVCSs (e.g. maximum 32 amps, networked level 2 chargers);
b. Whether it will require owners to use a contractor approved by the Board;
c. How the power consumption of EVCSs will be measured – usually this is either by a check-meter, or a software-based billing system; and
d. Whether owners installing an EVCS will be asked to pay their proportionate share of any necessary common infrastructure.
6. Draft a template installation agreement – As noted above, the condominium and owner are required to come to an agreement with respect to the installation of an EVCS within a specific time period. If the condominium has a policy that sets out specific requirements as to how an installation is to proceed, it may be possible, with the help of legal counsel, to create a template agreement that can be easily updated to reflect an owner's specific installation plans. This can assist the Board in coming to an agreement with the owner in the prescribed period.
By taking these steps, Boards can be assured that they will be prepared to properly respond when EVCS installation requests start to come in.