“Get the discussion started right away, because it will take some time,” Andy Rose, Griffins Walk Co-op member.
Fortunately, there are resources – and rebates – to help co-ops and other housing providers with MURBs introduce charging stations more easily and affordably. As of December 3, 2020 the provincially funded program has been expanded to include rebates for EV chargers and the electrical upgrades needed to make the building EV Ready. Taking advantage of these rebates now means co-ops can reduce the overall cost per parking space for installing EV chargers in multi-unit buildings, and simplifies the process to install additional chargers as more EVs are adopted over time.
But with the rebate application deadline coming up quickly (February 28, 2021), now is a great time to get the process started at your co-op.
Andy Rose, a Griffin’s Walk Co-op member, recommended a process of providing helpful information, facilitating open dialogue, allowing for plenty of questions, and drawing on the help of Plugin BC (a program of the Fraser Basin Council).
“Get the discussion started right away, because it will take some time,” Rose said. Griffins Walk Co-op applied in early 2018, under an earlier version of the rebate program. Armed with an initial nod from the co-op’s board, they submitted an application to get the ball rolling, then proceeded with extensive engagement with the rest of the co-op.
The initial meeting in July 2018 introduced information around EVs, legislation and environmental requirements that will steer more drivers to EVs, available incentives and options, and potential costs. After being pre-approved for a rebate of $8,000 for the installation of two EV charging stations, the co-op shared a detailed cost breakdown and invited members to send questions via email and/or attend a second meeting in January 2019.
The proposal received strong support, and the co-op later installed two charging stations (shared by four parking stalls). The total cost to the co-op was about $6,000; the drivers using the charging stations pay the $60 annual fee, as well as the electricity use through an RFID card.
“We put in a new electrical panel and a whole lot of conduit throughout the parking garage, so if at any point we need to expand, most of the infrastructure is already there and it would be comparatively cheaper [to install additional charging stations],” Rose said.
Rose recommended co-ops be ready to receive questions and concerns with an open mind. Griffin’s Walk emphasized the importance of multiple opportunities for input; at the time they had in-person meetings that would have to be different today, but the principle remains the same, he added.
There were some concerns, particularly around the relatively low number of electric vehicle users in the co-op at the time they were considering the installation, but members were convinced that with electric vehicles becoming the norm soon it made sense to take advantage of the rebates now.
“The costs of installation are not going to be less,” Rose said. “It’s not going to be cheaper if you wait and do it in five years.”
Neil MacEachern, a member of Sunrise Co-op in Vancouver and the former Manager of Sustainable Transportation at Fraser Basin Council, noted the co-op community tends to support environmental initiatives but that open dialogue is important for co-ops considering EV charging stations. Sunrise followed a similar process to Griffin’s Walk and also installed two charging stations recently.
“The key to this is to be really collaborative, listen to people’s concerns, and just really focus on … the benefit to everyone in the long term,” he said.
Plugin BC recommends that co-ops first conduct a survey (this sample survey in MS Word can be customized to your co-op’s needs) to determine current and future demand for access to charging and guide the project scope, noting that, in addition to members who already own an electric vehicle, there are likely many others considering it.
Mahdis Araujo, an EV Advisor with Fraser Basin Council, noted that installing an EV charger in a co-op building or other MURB can be complex, and residents should consider the following:
Next, you’ll need to work with a certified electrical contractor or engineering firm (preferable) to conduct a technical assessment of your building, which includes an EV Ready feasibility study, performance requirement calculations and design options.
“You may want to consult more than one contractor, as the quotes and electrification plan can differ drastically based on the contractor’s expertise,” Araujo said. Both utility service providers offer a list of certified electrical contractors at BC Hydro or FortisBC.
There are several requirements to meet in order to qualify for maximum rebates. Full details are available in the Program Guide, and a summary of maximum rebates is as follows:
There are many factors to consider, and even more information to absorb. Fortunately, part of the rebate program includes up to five free hours from an EV Advisor; these consultants are operating mainly via Zoom during the pandemic but can provide valuable high-level advice on different charging options (Note: the advisor does not take the place of an electrician or engineer).
Be sure to submit your application for the EV Ready Plan rebate now – the deadline is February 28, 2021. Once your co-op has that in place, and has the necessary pre-approval from BC Hydro, you can apply for the EV Ready infrastructure and EV charger rebates. Even if timelines don’t allow for you to proceed with infrastructure changes, there is still an excellent opportunity to develop an EV Ready Plan.
For more information co-ops can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHF BC is committed to taking action on environmental matters. Our newly formed Climate Emergency Task Force will meet for the first time next month. Its members include CHF BC directors and staff, as well as four others from CHF BC member organizations. Its mandate includes providing CHF BC’s board and members with information on how the Federation can help member housing co-ops become more environmentally sustainable and resilient.
TYPICAL STEPS FOR EV CHARGING STATION INSTALLATION IN A MURB
1.1 Start the conversation about the installation of electric vehicle charging
1.2 Survey residents
1.3 Gather information
1.4 Set your electric vehicle charging priorities
1.5 Set the scope of work
2.1 Seek out qualified professionals
2.2 Get initial consultation and estimates
2.3 Seek your council/committee approval to proceed
2.4 Apply for pre-approval
3.1 Develop the design options (EV Ready Plan)
3.2 Select your options (EV Ready Plan)
3.2 Develop the final design
4.1 Initiate the installation
4.2 Complete your rebate application
5.1 Develop an EV charging policy
5.2 Finalize your agreement with network service provider (if applicable)
Andy Rose next to the co-op’s EV charging station. (Griffins Walk Co-op).
Griffins Walk Co-op installed an oversized conduit to allow for additional chargers in the future.
Ellie plugging in her van after picking up her kids from school (Griffins Walk Co-op).
Heidi Rose plugging in their Nissan Leaf (Griffins Walk Co-op).