Condo corporations, start your charging stations
By Paul Russell, AdvocateDaily.com Contributor
Condo boards have to be prepared to deal with requests from residents for charging stations as electric cars become more commonplace, says Toronto condominium lawyer Warren Kleiner.
“It’s really important for a corporation to be proactive, and to give some thought to how electric car chargers could be accommodated in the building,” says Kleiner, partner with Shibley Righton LLP.
“The board can only reject the proposed installation for a limited number of reasons, such as showing that it will adversely affect the structural integrity of the property or assets of the corporation, or that it will pose a serious risk to the health and safety to individuals,” Kleiner says.
Other acceptable reasons for rejecting chargers include that they would damage the property or the assets of the corporation, or be contrary to a law, Act or regulation, he says.
“The biggest problem for condo boards is that they must respond within 60 days,” Kleiner says. “If they have not yet studied whether their building could accommodate these charging stations — usually with the help of engineers — directors could have no choice but to approve the installation, even though it’s not what the board wants or what is best for the corporation,” he says.
The Act sets out two processes that can be used to install electric vehicle chargers in the building, depending on whether the corporation wants to install a charger or the request is coming from a unit owner or the condo board.
“The Act envisions that if unit owners want the chargers, they will pay all the installation costs and electricity use,” Kleiner says.
Drawing on his experience with this issue, he says a third option or hybrid works best: where the condo board pays to have an electrical backbone put in place to support the chargers, while the unit owners are responsible for their own charger and electricity use.
“There are questions about how this hybrid model fits into the Act,” Kleiner says. “I don’t think it is contrary to the Act, it’s just not specifically provided for; however, it is the only practical answer going forward for many condominiums.”
Condominiums have a limited electrical capacity, he says.
"If condos are retrofitted with a new EV charger dedicated electrical backbone, which includes a specific panel for the connection of EV chargers, and owners are required to install 'smart' chargers that work with the installed panel and can talk to each other to regulate electrical consumption, in many cases, a greater number of electrical chargers could be added, without exceeding the existing electrical capacity of the corporation," Kleiner says.
“By working through the new panel, ‘smart chargers’ talk to each other,” he says. “If there is a huge demand on power in the building, the panel will lower the amount of power to each charger and balance the power, so that everybody can be charged but without overloading the system.”
This approach should allow some condos to double the number of chargers it can accommodate, Kleiner says.
“Most corporations are finding they need some type of hybrid solution, where the corporation installs this backbone and the dedicated panel, with the owners paying for individual chargers and the electricity they use,” Kleiner says.
In some condos, people installing a charger will pay an amount to the condo to reimburse it for a proportionate share of the cost of the dedicated electrical panel, he says.
“As time marches forward, I think what we’re going to see requests for these chargers increasing, so condo corporations need to be thinking about them now,” Kleiner says.