Should Your Community Install Car Charging Stations for Electric Cars
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. As an added benefit EV charging stations will keep residential communities relevant and marketable, and provide a positive impact to property values.
While adding EV charging stations to the community may seem to make sense, the process could be quite 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 an EV can have a charging station installed on their property, tying it into their 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 a community association board needs to make:
Should 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 are these installed? 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? And what’s the plan to expand on these communal spots when usage increases as these become more popular?
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 FirstService 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 big-picture solution might seem like a challenging 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 must 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 important to focus on the management plan as well 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 continued. “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 Energy focuses on creative, flexible solutions that cut energy costs and carbon footprint while maintaining or improving property values and resident lifestyles. FirstService Residential experts can manage this kind of capital improvement from start to finish.
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.”
To learn how FirstService Residential can support your community in planning your EV charging station roadmap, visit www.fsresidential.com.