Should Our Committee Be Looking To Install EV Chargers?

By January 28, 2022Sustainability

Many apartment communities across Australia are looking to install electric vehicle-charging systems at their complexes even when they have only one (at most) electric vehicle owner.

Why?

Put simply, electric vehicles are growing in popularity and decreasing in cost.

A study of the future of EV charging in apartments in Sydney found that 48 per cent of respondents plan to have an electric vehicle within the next five years, 78 per cent were in favour of installing charging and 79 per cent would like a user-pays arrangement for individual car spaces.

The pros of Electric Vehicles are numerous – they are climate-friendly and improve air quality with carbon emissions potentially cut by up to 90 per cent, while they can also be powered from green energy like solar and wind.

As a result, the operating costs are three to four times less than cars powered by petrol and, with overseas carmakers shifting rapidly to EVs and cars no longer produced domestically, Australia has to keep up.

There are only around 31 EV models available in Australia today, however, there’ll be 58 by the end of 2022.

With significant decreases in upfront costs predicted over the next 5 to 10 years, in addition to superior performance, and substantially lower running and servicing/maintenance costs than their diesel/petrol counterparts, Electric Vehicles are expected to quickly dominate the market.

Most new apartment buildings are allocating, and making allowances for, charging stations for future electric car and there are predictions that electric vehicle (EV) chargers could soon be seen as desirable as having high-speed internet.

Think about it – would you invest heavily in a luxury apartment if it had no high-speed internet? Probably not.

Subsequently, retrofitting EV chargers into common property for residents has become a priority for many strata committees looking to futureproof their buildings.

However, retrofitting can be difficult, and you never know what’s coming next with technology, so for the tens of thousands of existing QLD strata communities, retrofitting EC charging infrastructure can present a whole new set of challenges.

Installing in your Complex

Concerns for the Body Corporate

If a lot owner or owners wishes to install EV charging equipment on common property there are a range of factors that need to be considered.

  • Is the charger solely for the use of an individual?
    • Who is responsible for the damage to common property caused by the EC charger?
    • What insurance coverage is needed? Who pays?

There is also the issue of who covers the cost of installation and maintenance and how that cost is split between owners.

Cost items include:

  • Upgrade/retrofitting existing infrastructure
    • Energy management and cost reimbursement
    • Insurance cover
    • Health & safety compliance

Other considerations:

  • What bylaws are needed for using EV chargers? To govern time of use, location, obstructions to common property etc.
    Can we include solar and battery storage?
  • What is the level of interest among owners and residents to install EV chargers and would they be prepared to pay for infrastructure upgrades?

Process to implement EV charging stations

  1. Engage a suitably qualified expert to determine the load capacity of the building and whether it is appropriate to install EV Charging Stations at the property.
    2. Determine the type of charging facility that will be required and compare quotes from suppliers.
    3. Present quotes to the Body Corporate for consideration and facilitate the installation process once a contractor is selected.
    4. Provide guidance to the community on the operation and management of the EV Charging Station

The installation of EV Charging Stations will differ depending on where the station is installed. The two most likely scenarios would be a request for installation in an exclusive use area or on the common property. Practically, both of these scenarios require different considerations.

Exclusive Use Areas:

Where a lot owner wanting to install an EV charging station within their exclusive use space, the body corporate manager informs the Body Corporate to determine the basis for approval. This approval should be recorded as either a policy or as a by-law ensuring that the same standards and considerations are applied to all requests.

Any policy or by-law relating to installation in an exclusive use area should address the following:

  • What information is the lot owner is required to provide to the Body Corporate for a decision to be made?
    • What basis will the Committee or Body Corporate approve a request?
    • What will be the relationship between the lot owner and Body Corporate with respect to the EV Charging Station and use of common property infrastructure?
    • Who is responsible for the installation and who will own the equipment once installed?
    • Who is responsible for the ongoing costs including the maintenance of the equipment?

A way to ensure that a process is implemented and followed is for the Body Corporate to adopt a by-law that addresses the above considerations

Common Property:

Where a Body Corporate would like to install EV Charging Stations on common property, there are additional factors that will be needed to take into account.

These factors include:

  • Is the Body Corporate open to undertaking the cost of the installation?
    • Has the Body Corporate properly resolved to proceed with the installation and has this expense been budgeted for?
    • Who can use the EV Charging Station?
    • How will the Body Corporate administer the operation of the EV Charging Station, including how the cost will be passed on to the user?
    • Are there any unintended consequences that will arise from the operation of the EV Charging Station, such as the usage of common property car parks, time limitation on car parks and cost of electricity during its operation?

To address some of the above issues, one method a Body Corporate could adopt in administering a common property EV Charging Station is via a by-law and a User Agreement with a prospective EV Owner. An EV Owner would apply to the Body Corporate for consent to use the EV Charging Station and enter into a User Agreement.

The considerations and answers to those considerations vary and ultimately professional advice should be obtained. Bodies Corporate must ensure that they obtain advice to comply with applicable laws when coming up with a plan for EV Chargers. Law firm Law Quarter can provide you with comprehensive advice on managing your legal and regulatory obligations in this area.

Benefits of EV’s

Aside from reducing carbon emissions, electric vehicles can mean big savings for motorists. Today the average EV driver can save about $1,300 a year on fuel as well as around $300 on annual maintenance costs.

It is predicted that by 2024, the price for an electric vehicle in Australia will be on par with a regular car and many newer developments are including EV charging stations or provisioning for their easy installation in the future.

The Future of EV Chargers

Retrofitting EV charging stations is a new and potentially complex process for strata communities. The demand for these facilities will increase as affordability of electric vehicles increase and longer-term benefits to the environment and operating costs become more apparent.

One study in Sydney last year showed that 78 per cent of apartment block owners would like EV chargers in their block, and almost half of apartment dwellers thinking about buying an electric car within the next 5 years.

With Australia seen on the precipice of the shift from combustion-powered vehicles to electric vehicles that is already well under way overseas, many body corporates will see the value in access to electric vehicle charging to their carbon footprint, wallets and property values.

 

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