As more Americans switch from gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs), they need a convenient, reliable way to charge their cars at home. To meet that demand, more and more residential properties are installing EV charging stations. These will keep condominium properties relevant and marketable, and typically provide a positive impact to property values.

While adding EV charging stations to the community may seem to make sense, the process is complex. Associations must take a broader look at the implications of EV stations to ensure they fit the needs of the community as a whole. 

In a gated community with single-family homes, a resident who purchases a EV can have a charging station installed on their property, tying it into the home’s electricity. It’s a simple solution with few headaches for the association.

But in a condominium development, the solutions aren’t so simple. 

Decisions need to be made:

  • Does the community dedicate a few spots to allow for charging or multiple locations throughout the community? And would there ever be an option to allow for residents to purchase or lease a spot full-time? 
  • If you decide on resident-dedicated spots, how do you install them? Who pays for them? How much electricity is available for each?
  • ​If you decide on communal spots, what rules would need to be put in place to make the process seamless? Do you establish a plug-in time limit? Who moves the cars? 
  • ​What are the implications from an insurance perspective? 

These are just a few of the issues that must be addressed. But before even getting to that point, the question becomes: Do EV charging stations even make sense for the community? 

“Reacting to one person who wants a charger is a good way to fail in the long run,” said Chris Normandeau, director of FS Energy, the energy management arm of FirstService Residential. “Figuring out what they want to do, taking a step back, setting up a policy, setting up an infrastructure, best practices and methods with a larger, bigger picture solution might be a bigger hurdle in the short run, but will make it much easier in the long run.” 

Once a community decides to move forward with EV charging stations, it is imperative to research the different charging options. 

At a glance, it would seem that getting the EV charging stations installed and running would be the biggest challenge associated with the upgrade – working with electricians, engineers and the local utility company. But the policies governing the use of the equipment are as important as the stations themselves.

Managed improperly, these charging stations can create an unnecessary headache for the residents and association board, which is why it is imperative to spend as much time on the management plan as the installation plan.

“Ensuring that electricity is paid for by the people who are using it is something that shouldn’t be neglected,” Normandeau said. “That’s a big piece of the puzzle – there’s meter reading, invoicing, following up with residents, collections, and more.” 

But there is good news for communities looking to invest in the renewable infrastructure. FirstService Residential has the knowledge to manage this kind of capital improvement from start to finish. FS Energy focuses on creative, flexible solutions that cut energy costs and carbon footprint while maintaining or improving both property values and resident lifestyles. 

So, when looking to navigate the process toward adding EV stations, FirstService Residential will be with you every step of the way. “Working with the residents and with the ownership within the building to give them what they want, at the end of the day, is a decision a board has to make and, as the property management company, we will help make it happen,” Normandeau said. “In this case, that might be EV charging stations – making sure it’s done in a way that isn’t short-sighted, but takes more of a high-level overview and makes sure it’s done right the first time.” 

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Tuesday January 16, 2018