As more Americans switch from gasoline vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs), they need a convenient, reliable way to charge their cars at home. More and more residential properties are installing EV charging stations to meet this demand. As an added benefit, EV charging stations will keep residential communities relevant and marketable and positively impact property values.

While adding EV charging stations to the community may seem to make sense, the process could be complex. To guarantee that EV stations meet the community's demands, associations must take a deeper look at their implications.

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 straightforward approach with few drawbacks for the association.

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

Decisions a community association board needs to make:

•    Is it better to have a few dedicated charging spots, or should multiple spots be distributed throughout the community? And will residents be able to own or rent a spot full-time in the future?

•    If you decide on resident-dedicated spots, how are these installed? Who pays for them? What is the amount of electricity available for each?

•    To make the process seamless, what rules would have to be in place? Do you establish a plug-in time limit? Who moves the cars? And what are the plans for expanding these spots as their popularity grows?

•    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. "Determining what they want to do, taking a step back, establishing a policy and an infrastructure, and implementing best practices and procedures with a big-picture solution may be difficult in the short run, but it will be a lot easier in the long run."

When a community chooses to install EV charging stations, it must first examine the various charging options.

At first glance, it would appear that getting the electric vehicle charging stations in place and operational might be the biggest challenge associated with the upgrade – working with electricians, engineers and the local utility company. However, the policies that control how the equipment is used are just as crucial as the stations themselves.

These charging stations can cause unnecessary headaches for residents and the board of directors if they are not properly managed, so it is important to focus on the management and installation plans.

“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.”

There is, however, good news for communities interested in investing in renewable infrastructure. FirstService Energy focuses on innovative, adaptable solutions that reduce energy costs and carbon emissions while preserving 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 the ownership to offer them what they want is a decision a board needs to make, and as the property management company, we will help make that 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.”

Contact us to learn how FirstService Residential can assist your community with developing an EV charging station roadmap.

Thursday April 21, 2022