In 2018, there were a million electric cars on the roads in the U.S. By 2025, there will be more than 18 million electric cars on U.S. roads, according to PolicyAdvice and Business Insider. Electric car owners will want to charge their cars at home, at the mall, at work or in every parking garage. The question is, who should pay for an electric car home charging station if you live in a condo building? All the owners or just the owners who use the electric car home charging station? One thing is clear, condo buildings will need to find ways to electric car home charging stations since more homeowners plan to buy electric cars in the future.
Who pays for the electric car home charging station and the electricity homeowners use?
Q: I read your Real Estates Matters column each week. Here’s my question: In our condo building we have twelve units and each unit has its own garage. The association pays for the electricity for all of the garage units. What happens if someone purchases an electric car and wants to charge it in the garage? What if the owner needs the building to install an electric home charging station? Should the owner pay for that upgrade and would that unit owner pay more because they’re using more electricity?
How many homeowners own electric vehicles?
A: This is a great question. We, too, have wondered what condominium associations will do with this issue now that so many people are buying (and are being encouraged to buy) electrical vehicles. In fact, in 1918, there were only a million electric cars owned and on the roads. By 2025, there will be 18 million electric cars in the U.S. alone. In the U.S., electric vehicles account for less than 2% of the car market, so they’re not that common yet.
Should all condo owners pay equally even if they don’t own an electric car?
The premise of your question is that it doesn’t seem fair to have all of the unit owners share equally in the electric bill when there are one or more homeowners that own electric vehicles and power them in the garage.
True enough. That doesn’t seem fair. Still, condominium boards have broad discretion on how to run their associations. We’ve been to a growing number of condominium buildings and seen home charging stations. In each of these instances, it looked to us like the charging station was tied into the building electric system and was not separately metered. (One exception: a local workout club has a meter on their charging station, but the cost is pennies for several hours of charging.)
Consider the electric car home charging station as a condo building amenity
If you don’t want to meter up the charging station, you could consider the charging station an amenity like any other. Some buildings have picnic and grill areas and provide homeowners with free gas, logs or other items for their parties and activities. Other buildings have party rooms with tables, chairs and other items for their members to host parties. In most, if not all, of these other situations any homeowner can take advantage of the party room, pool, recreational facility, exercise room, and other available benefits without paying extra fees.
Electric car home charging stations may make your building more valuable
If the charging station is available for any homeowner to use, consider it as another amenity offered by that building. Maybe it will make the property more desirable to future buyers (and may even help propel values higher). However, if the home charging station is only available to one owner (and only that owner), then it may be fairer for that owner to pay the building the estimated cost for the electricity – or perhaps reimburse the building for the cost of installing the charging station.
Consider charging a monthly fee to cover the cost of the charging station, electricity and other expenses.
Here’s another idea: Perhaps the condominium association could require owners to sign up for a slot and then charge those owners a monthly fee to use the charging station. It would cover the cost of installing the electric car home charging station, the electricity the owner uses, and other expenses, like insurance (if you need to increase your coverage to account for the charging station).
Compare past electric bills with the current one to see what the extra usage costs
That’s an easy workaround, since it’s likely too expensive to install a separate electric meter. But your association should compare past electrical bills with the current bills to see how much the extra electricity has cost and come up with a fair sum to charge that unit owner or any other unit owner that wants access to the charging station.
Does your building offer free charging for your electric vehicle?
Over time, you can decide if the monthly fee is fair or change it to make it fair for everyone. We’d love to hear from our readers about how their condo associations are dealing with this issue, especially since climate change seems to be on everyone’s minds these days.
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Can a Condo Board Change Bylaws?
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©2021 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.
We are a midsize condo building in a northwest Chicago suburb. The Board recently allowed a new electric panel to be installed in the shared underground garage. This panel is exclusively for running lines to individual parking slots for EV chargers. We did not have a free space to put in a communal charging station so we opted to allow individual chargers. The cost to install the panel was to be reimbursed to the Board by charging a fee to any condo owner who wants to install a charging station in their assigned parking spot. The condo owner also pays for running the conduit from the charging panel to their individual spot and for the charger itself. Two problems have surfaced. One is that ComEd, who does not appear to be prepared for the issue of charging stations in multiunit buildings, cannot individually meter the parking places. We get one electric bill for the EV charging usage. It’s up to us to figure out how to charge the unit owners who charge EVs with their individual chargers. We have purchased, and are testing, a bluetooth enabled workaround that will give us usage on the individual lines, but, haven’t finished confirming the accuracy of this method as yet. Nor have we determined how the billing would then be done via the home owners association management company.
A second problem is ComEd rates. Although individual units have separate bills for air conditioning, and we pay residential rates for that, ComEd is insisting on charging commercial rates for electricity use from the EV panel. Thus, our charging rates for the EVs is higher than it would be for a residential customer charging at home. We have protested this issue with ComEd, but, it appears they have the leeway to charge the higher rate.
Our utility companies need to understand, and provide better infrastructure, to allow EV charging in multiunit buildings.
Thanks for this insight into a greater problem that power companies nationwide are having. I’m fairly certain that within 5 to 10 years, this will all get sorted out, but it’s new now, and it’s clear that it’s annoying. There’s no reason that CommEd should charge commercial rates to condo buildings when individual homeowners can add it to their residential bills. There may need to be a statewide rule implemented that prohibits CommEd (and other power companies in this and other states) from doing this. Talk to your state representative for feedback on where to start. It would also help if there are other condo buildings in similar predicaments in the neighborhood. Got any friends who have electric vehicles who live in condo buildings?
For residential rate customers, ComEd also offers “Time-Of-Day Pricing”. If the condo association can get switched to that pricing schedule, most EV’s and smart chargers have features to prioritize charging during off-peak hours. Even if they are forced to stay with commercial electric rates, there are time of day rate tiers that could keep the EV charging rates lower. Residents who needed to recharge during peak hours could be assessed a higher fee based on the time of day when they are charging.