Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Associations:
Who Pays the Electric Bill?
With nearly 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in California alone, which is 40 percent of the national PEV market, more and more associations are or will be receiving requests from homeowners for charging stations on the property.
So why should community associations pay attention to the growing number of PEVs? It has to do with power. PEVs have numberous advantages, but of course they must be charged. By 2050, the number of vehicles in the world is estimated to double to two billion. According to a new report from Pike Research, annual worldwide sales of PEVs will reach 3.8 million by 2020. Owners of PEVs will need an external power station to charge their vehicles. How do you chrge your PEV is you live in a common interest development such as a condominium, community apartment project or planned development, operated by a homeowners association (HOA)?
California law requires HOAs to allow PEVs to charge, and, starting January 1, 2012, any restriction which prohibits or restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle ("EV") charging station in a common interest development is void and unenforceable. (Civ. Code §4745(a).) Read more: Electric Charging http://www.davis-stirling.com/MainIndex/ElectricVehicles/tabid/2988/Default.aspx#ixzz3Z36csyWr
On January 1, 2014, new laws took effect in Oregon relating to Association requirements for Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (“EVCS”). Read more: http://www.barkermartin.com/blog/condo-hoa-blog/post/oregon-legal-update-electric-vehicle-charging-stations
So now we have established that 1) PEVs are not going away, and 2) associations cannot deny PEV charging stations to residents.
As a practical matter, determinng how to pay for electricity is the most difficult aspect of this process:
Types of Charging Station Ownership and Cost Recovery
You can decide to own and operate charging stations or have a third party (typically an electric vehicle service provider, or EVSP) own and operate the charging stations at the property. There are typically four ownership models:
HOA Owns and Manages – The HOA installs, manages and operates charging stations on its property. The HOA charges residents money for use, track energy usage, and manage billing and payments. Users would be charged a flat fee added to the HOA assessment.
HOA Owns, EVSP Manages – The HOA chooses equipment and installs it on its property. An EVSP will handle the management and operation of the charging station. Users can pay a monthly flat fee for unlimited use, pay for electricity used, or costs can be allocated through a user’s subscription service or to the management company for periodic billing to the user.
EVSP Owns and Manages – The EVSP provides a turnkey service and installs, manages and operates the charging stations for the HOA for a monthly fee. Similar to above, users can pay a monthly flat fee for unlimited use, pay for electricity used, or costs can be allocated through a user’s subscription service, which may encompass the cost of using public charging stations.
Homeowner Owns and Manages – HOA unit owners contract for their own charging stations at residents’ garages or parking spaces.
Based on these four models, our first choice is for the association to own the charging station equipment, and pay the EVSP to manage. Our second choice is for the EVSP to own and manage the equipment. Why?
Knowing how much electricity was used will not necessarily determine the cost of that electricity. Electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours (KWH), and the range could be from $.05/KWH to $.50/KWH. Electricity costs vary from month to month, and electricity rates vary from area to area.
Here is an example of the summary chart for the R-1-A residential rates currently in effect for Los Angeles DWP. (See 'Electric Rate Schedules' from website page: https://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/faces/wcnav_externalId/a-fr-elecrate-schel?_adf.ctrl-state=6laswi7gj_4&_afrLoop=3487505457296 and also https://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/faces/wcnav_externalId/a-fr-enrgcost-adjestfact?_adf.ctrl-state=18ho166tc4_4&_afrLoop=285847098324605&_afrWindowMode=0&_afrWindowId=u1iiggygs_1#%40%3F_afrWindowId%3Du1iiggygs_1%26_afrLoop%3D285847098324605%26_afrWindowMode%3D0%26_adf.ctrl-state%3Du1iiggygs_17) As a property manager, would you want to calcuate the 3 tiers of electric charges each month, with the variable monthly ESA, ECA, RCA, IRCA, VEA, CRPSEA, VRPSEA per-kilowatt-hour charges, plus pro-rating all of these monthly charges, based on the number of days in each billing cycle? If you do not keep up with all of the current electric rates, it is very possible that you will undercharge the homeowners for their electricity, at a cost to the association!
Billing homeowners each month for electricity used for PEV charging stations is something that is best left up to the professionals!
Additional information resources for PEVs in associations: