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April 20, 2023 - By Patricia Elia

Electric Vehicle Charging Systems

Practical Thoughts About Implementation

Electrical Vehicle Charging Systems (“EVCS”) are here to stay because electrical vehicles are now part of our environmental and economic future. The need for humans to convert to electric vehicles has therefore become a legislative/public policy initiative. The reasons seem to be clear: global warming and depleting resources of gas and oil globally, (or alternatively, unreliable sources of gas and oil globally). Accordingly, the move to electrification seems logical (We will not debate the environmental footprint of electrical vehicles at this time, but the hope is that with the production of more electric vehicles systems of production as well as recycling of electric vehicles will become viable and environmentally more friendly).

The Ontario government amended the Condominium Act to allow easy access for unit owners to request an EVCS. The government put together two methodologies on how to attain EVCS. Option one is for a unit owner to directly request the same from the Corporation and for the Board to determine whether the application is going to be accepted. (The reality is, there is a very narrow legal basis upon which the actual application can be denied). The second way is for the Board of Directors to determine that it is going to install EVCS.

Electrical Distribution System upgrades or additions and EVCS are not inexpensive. I think this is where the legislation could have gone further: rebates to both condominium corporations and unit owners for EVCS conversions at the Federal and Provincial levels. This would have offset the costs associated with legislative changes which are downloaded to unit owners. While there are indeed some rebates available, I think more incentives would achieve the policy objective.

EVCS do add value and they are pretty well a right of every owner, if they wish one. To stay ahead of demand, we have seen Boards being proactive in contemplating designing and implementing EVCS under Option 2.

We have developed (with our clients’ active participation – thank you) policies and agreements in a way that thinks ahead and  customizes solutions to a condominium corporation. We have seen that condominiums are wise to undertake the following steps if they wish to be ahead of the curve in the request for EVCS installation:

  1. Work with the Corporation’s engineer to determine the existing and expandable capacity for the electric distribution system (“EDS”) currently.
  2. Understand how many EVCSs can be installed, based on the existing EDS and the types of chargers which would be most efficient.
  3. Survey unit owners to determine who (at the current time and in the next few years) wishes to have an EVCS. A demand of 1 is very different in accommodation requirements than a demand of 50.
  4. Assess the scope and nature of various service providers offering in the EVCS space and determining which type of program is best suited for the Corporation. This will inform and structure the legal relationships that bind the Corporation, unit owners and service providers. Accordingly, due diligence, in accordance with Section 37 obligations, must be undertaken.
  5. Develop a policy which outlines the application process with the Corporation, as well as the obligation of unit owners with respect to their EVCS is appropriate.
  6. Design a bulk agreement with unit owners to create a cost-effective methodology of implementing electric vehicle charging. Under regulation 48 / 01 under the Condominium Act, Section 24.5, there must be an agreement entered into and registered on title. (For those of us familiar with Section 98, the Section 24 is very similar to a Section 98 agreement). Accordingly, we feel that it can be cost-effective to do a bulk form of Section 24 agreement, which can help ease some of the costs of registration, etc.
  7. Determine of how costs will be broken down. Costs for EVCS are made up of two components, which must be envisioned by the Corporation, its engineer, its service provider and community; specifically, we must contemplate how we look at the EDS infrastructure and what components need to be added to expand the EDS, when those components will be added and how the system, if required, needs to be expanded over time, depending on demand. Next, the EVCS component must be identified.
  8.  Think about the number of agreements with the service providers and the contents of those agreements with the service providers. They are (sometimes) as well, service providers embedded in these agreements and we need to also address those embedded terms with the third-party service providers that are being hired primarily by a service provider.
  9. Communicate with owners the plan. Take the time to keep people up to date. This process can take time and patience but efficiency will be appreciated.
  10. Determine now how is pricing going to work. The Corporation could pay, through the operating budget, for all the EVCS, but that seems a little bit unreasonable and is not the legal requirement. Those requesting EVCS can be required to pay the whole shot as per the regulation, which is fair since people cannot be forced to buy an electric vehicle. However, we are seeing corporations determine what the infrastructure costs are, based on what the existing capacity is, together with plans for future phases on expanding the system and then, the Corporation will then divide that cost up appropriately, based on demand number of potential spots be created and phases. This allows for sharing and incentivizes EVCS installation.

The Corporation, through effective process design, can be cost-effective, timely and creative in how it provides for EVCS is in its community. It is not overly complex, but it takes time to plan. EVCS are here to stay; so it is better to be powered up and organized in order to undertake this in an effective way.