A primary roadblock for EV adoption is concern about where to charge the electric vehicle. Homeowners often have the option of installing a Level 2, 240-volt charger in their garages but apartment dwellers do not have this luxury.
A 2022 survey found that an estimated 40 percent of consumers postpone buying an EV until they have a garage because of concerns about charging. Another study of California residents who purchased an EV between 2012 and 2018 found that one in five returned to a gas-powered vehicle due to the inconvenience of charging—and around 70 percent didn’t have access to Level 2 charging at their home or workplace.
Jeff Allen, executive director of EV advocacy group Forth in Portland, Oregon states, “Charging is obviously less convenient and more complicated for someone living in an apartment—and an anchor on the growth of the market.”
Ben Prochazka, executive director of the D.C.-based Electrification Coalition goes on to say, “I think for the average consumer it’s a barrier, it’s why there’s a lot of policy considerations in play to help move that forward.”
The Right to Charge Law
To help address EV charging for apartments and condos, laws are being advanced to make it easier for residents of multifamily complexes to install charging stations. Currently, nine states have right-to-charge laws requiring landlords or home-owner associations (HOAs) to allow residents to install EV chargers. While the laws vary by state, all prohibit MUD owners and HOAs from preventing the installation and use of electric vehicle charging stations by residents. These laws also set requirements for condo and apartment renters.
These requirements typically apply to the MUD owner or renter, depending on who is paying for the charging stations and their installation. These individuals or the complex are also responsible for charger maintenance, insurance, and electricity usage costs.
California, currently the national leader in EV ownership has taken the Right to Charge law a step further with a civil code adopted in 2014. The civil code applies to owner and renter occupied units allowing for the installation of an EV charger “within an owner’s unit or in a designated parking space” or “at a parking space allocated for the lessee.”
The chargers can also be located in a common area when the EV owner’s parking spot does not allow for easy or affordable installation.
There are exceptions to the Right to Charge law and the accompanying civil code. For example, properties with EV chargers in at least 10 percent of the parking lot, MUDs with less than five spaces for vehicles, or another local EV charging station ordinance supersedes the Right to Charge law.
States, along with California with Right to Charge laws include Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Florida, Oregon, Colorado, and Hawaii.
Not all renters and building owners are familiar with the Right to Charge or any other laws that may be on the books. Jeff Allen addresses this issue by saying, “It’s really up to individual EV owners and apartment managers to do the research. We’ve done some work that the U.S. Department of Energy helped fund to develop tools for apartment managers to make it easier for them to navigate the process.”
If you are looking for additional information on the Right to Charge laws, we have just the eBook for you. In our eBook, What is the Right to Charge Law, we cover the benefits of charging where you live, the barriers facing MUDs, a breakdown of the right to charge laws, and so much more. Get your free copy here.
Pole Positioning for EV Charger Installation
Some cities are making it easier for residents without garages to charge their vehicles. Instead of installing ground-based units, the chargers are mounted on street light and utility poles. This is helping to reduce installation costs by up to 70%.
Kansas City is an example. The city started a three-year pilot in 2021 that added EV charging to streetlights and last year the city of Melrose, Massachusetts, north of Boston worked with a local utility to install 16 pole-mounted EV chargers in 10 locations around town. In 2022, Seattle announced a program with a local utility to install pole-mounted Level 2 EV chargers at a requested location at no cost to residents or property owners.
However, there can be roadblocks to this installation solution. Congested areas may run into issues with blocking off parking for EV charging. Right-of-way streets present another challenge.
Jeff Allen explains. “If you’re parked overnight and you’re not actively charging the whole time that’s a waste of the asset, and you’re blocking that charger for the entire time you’re parked.”
Vancouver, British Columbia has come up with a temporary solution. However, it is also not the safest way to power an EV charger. EV drivers are allowed to run an extension cord from their home or apartment to their vehicles. The cord must be covered “by a highly visible, stable and secure low-angle cable ramp” and the vehicle owner has to obtain a $5-per-year license from the city.
Please Note: We NEVER recommend or suggest running an extension cord from your home or apartment to your vehicle. This can cause a tripping hazard as well as major issues with you and your buildings insurance provider.
Taking Another Look at Building Codes
Renters can also take advantage of public charging stations. More office buildings, commercial spaces, and mixed-use developments that combine retail and office space with multi-unit dwellings are installing chargers as an amenity. Some of these units may even be DC (Level 3) fast chargers that only take a few minutes to top off the battery.
More cities are also requiring EV charging stations in public parking spaces. For example, San Francisco began requiring all commercial parking lots and garages with more than 100 parking spaces to install EV charging stations in at least 10 percent of the parking spaces in 2019. Oregon has also passed a similar law requiring “certain buildings to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure at a minimum of 20 percent of the vehicle parking spaces in the garage or parking area on the building’s site, or the minimum percentage required by local government.”
Cities are also turning their attention to new constructions, requiring builders to either add EV chargers or install the wiring necessary to support installation. San Francisco passed a law in 2017 that requires all new residential and commercial buildings to have chargers in 10 percent of parking spaces and wiring installed in 20 percent of spaces to enable EV charging.
Denver has one of the most ambitious EV building codes in the country. In 2020, the Mile High City passed a measure requiring “EV infrastructure requirements” for new parking spaces in multi-unit dwellings. Cities from Atlanta to Honolulu have also implemented EV infrastructure building codes.
According to Ben Prochazka, “The idea is to have EV-ready requirements so that any new construction and development has to put the wiring and conduit in for chargers. Those are things that a lot of cities are thinking through and realizing it makes a lot of sense that these become a part of traditional services.”
Jeff Allen adds, “It’s important because it’s so much cheaper to install the electrical infrastructure when building—magnitudes cheaper.”
To help offset costs associated with the updated building codes, The Inflation Reduction Act is increasing the federal tax incentives for property owners to install charging stations. The tax credits are increased from 6 – to -30 percent of cost and rebate caps from $30,000 to $100,000. However, the property needs to be in specific low-income and non-urban areas defined by the 2020 census—areas where EV adoption lags.
Apogee Charging Solutions specializes in installing EV chargers in MUDs. We understand the complexities surrounding the electrification of multifamily dwellings. From product selection to electrical upgrades and installation we have the knowledge and expertise to assist your facility. To speak with one of our MUD EV Charging Specialists, click here.
Offering EV Charging as a Service
Offering EV charging as a service is becoming a popular option. Amperage Capital, which in January 2023 launched a program to add charging stations at apartment buildings. The company provides what it calls “a white glove service by taking responsibility for the management, design, construction, permits, and implementation of the entire process.”
The service charges residents to lease a dedicated parking spot with a Level 2 charger and shares the revenue with the building owner. Cofounder and CEO Farrukh Malik also couldn’t divulge exactly how much a renter will pay since pricing will depend on varying costs such as location, electricity, and construction, but he estimates it will run $150 to $200 a month.
The advantage for renters is having an assigned charging site and a single-point owner. “We don’t want our customers to have to install another charging app and we’re not trying to push our brand,” Malik adds. Instead, an apartment building can brand chargers as their own. “A lot of building owners want it to be part of their amenities,” Malik says.
EV Charging for MUDs with Apogee Charging Solutions
Are you ready to start offering EV charging or need more information on installing EV charging stations in your apartment or condo complex? Contact Apogee Charging Solutions today for more information by calling 484-816-2076, emailing [email protected], or schedule a call that fits your need by clicking the button below.
Reference: MotorTrend (2023). Apartment EV Charging: How Renters Can Get Juice. https://www.motortrend.com/features/apartment-ev-charging-renters-rights/