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Wired for rebates: Questions and answers about B.C.'s EV charger program

Image of an EV connected to a charger
EV charger rebates are available for houses as well as condos and apartments.

What we learned from the Alliance webinar on rebates for buying, installing Level 2 chargers

Electric car owners are getting the message loud and clear: the Province of BC is serious about getting more plug-in vehicles on the road, and convenient access to charging is the only way to make it happen.

Not surprisingly, B.C.'s new rebates for the purchase and installation of Level 2 chargers at homes and workplaces are a hit.

"The [Province of BC] target for electric light duty vehicles is 10% of new car sales by 2025, 30% by 2030, and 100% by 2040," BC Hydro program manager Reid Arkinstall said as he kicked off the November 5 Alliance webinar on the EV rebate program. "So this program is really designed to address one of the key barriers of EV adoption, which is access to charging infrastructure, and in particular, charging at homes and workplaces.

Funded by the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines, and Low Carbon Innovation – and administered by BC Hydro and Fortis BC – the $4.8 million in rebates make it more affordable for residents, condo managers, strata councils, and businesses to add Level 2 charging. For a limited time, BC Hydro is matching the provincial rebate amount for single-family homes.

While most residents, condos, and businesses in B.C. qualify for the incentives, the specifics and processes around the rebates vary. Here are a few key questions and answers covered in the Alliance webinar, and you can get full program details online.

Q: Do you apply for the rebates before, or after, the work is done?

That all depends on the version of the rebate program. Residents in single-family homes can only apply for the rebate after installing an approved Level 2 charger, while the condo/apartment and workplace rebates require application for a "reserved" rebate, with pre-approval a necessary step before the EV charger installation work has begun.

Q: How are the rebate maximums calculated?

For single-family homes, rebates are calculated at 50% of the cost of purchase and installation of one Level 2 charging station, up to a maximum of $700.

For condos and apartments, as well as for workplaces, the rebate is 50% of costs per station – up to a maximum of seven stations – with a limit of $2,000 per station for a per-building maximum of $14,000. Stratas and businesses that operate several, separate buildings can, however, qualify for up to $14,000 in rebates for each building up to a maximum of four.

Double-port stations at stratas or workplaces count as two charging stations and are eligible for 50% of total costs up to $4,000.

Q: What are the key dates around eligibility and access to the rebates?

For single-family homes, purchase and installation of approved Level 2 chargers qualify if they are installed after the kickoff of the program on Sept. 26, 2019. The application for the rebate must occur within 90 days of work being completed, or by March 31, 2020, whichever comes first.

The condo and apartment EV charger rebate, as well as the workplace charger rebate, requires a three-part application process (application for review and pre-approval; purchases and work after pre-approval; and final documentation) completed with the submission of final documentation within four months after the pre-approval date, or by March 31, 2020, whichever comes first. Applications submitted after that date will be put on waitlists, with approval pending ongoing funding of the program.

The condo/apartment rebate, and the workplace rebate, are only available for chargers in buildings constructed later than August 31, 2019, and are intended for retrofit solutions only. Rebates only apply to work done on or after the program launch date of September 26, 2019.

Q: Are there exceptions beyond the approved list of eligible Level 2 chargers?

The program's current list of approved chargers is well over 100, but recognizing that new Level 2 chargers are regularly becoming available in Canada, the program allows for all Level 2 chargers that meet program criteria. See the updated list of eligible chargers on the rebates page, and contact the Alliance to check if a not-listed charger you're considering is eligible.

All chargers require the SAE J1772 plug, although Level 2 chargers with Tesla plugs (single-family home chargers only) are accepted. Chargers must be new, not refurbished, and permanent, except in those cases where a customer has a pre-existing 240-Volt outlet and wants an approved plug-in wall-mounted charger.

For apartments, condos, and workplaces, chargers must be networked via one of a variety of Internet protocol options and/or proprietary systems.

Q: What's required, and covered by rebates, in terms of work related to apartment/condo site assessments, etc.?

Costs eligible under the rebate include purchase of networked charging stations along with labour and construction costs associated with a conduit upgrade, site assessment, permit costs, and EV parking signage.

One exception to the usual "purchase and installation" requirement for the rebate is funding for the installation of up to seven energized 240-volt outlets for future use with chargers.

Q: Who's responsible for applying for condo or apartment rebates?

The offer is available to all B.C. residents, building owners, managers, and other building representatives (such as strata councils) who reside in, or have oversight of, an eligible multi-unit residential facility built no later than Aug. 31, 2019. Only retrofits – and not new construction – qualify.

Q: Is there a way to combine provincial rebates with other charger rebate programs?

The provincial rebates can't be combined with any other incentives such as those available via ZapBC. However, customers who relied on charger installation rebates under the former PluginBC program can install additional chargers and or oversized conduit if they meet the program requirements. Contact the Alliance if you have questions about eligibility.

Q: Who pays for the electricity being used in a charger installed in an apartment/condo parking area, and how much is charged?

"There's no one answer to that question," said BC Hydro's Arkinstall. "I think a lot of stratas are working through how to charge residents with EVs for the electricity they use to charge their vehicles. There are situations where [multi-unit residential facilities] are applying a flat fee, after they figure out what the estimated costs will be.

"There's also the situation where the networked charging stations have accurate data collection on consumption for each vehicle. That can be tracked so that the vehicle owner is charged based on that data. And there are probably other ways, all unique to each situation."

Q: Is the workplace charging rebate for businesses of varying sizes, and can those chargers be used by customers of those businesses?

There's some flexibility in the workplace charging program, but the EV chargers are for employees only. Businesses with at least five employees at a facility are eligible for a 50% per charger rebate with a maximum of $2,000 per charger and maximum of seven charging stations (up to $14,000 in total) per facility. However, businesses operating multiple workplaces can qualify for up to $14,000 per facility for up to four different buildings.

"About 80% of charging tends to take place at home or at work, so the intention of this program is to meet the needs of employees who are charging at work," said Arkinstall. "It's not meant to be for customers, and that's an important consideration. It's not for a grocery store, for instance, that wants to provide public charging for customers."

Q: Can a strata unit owner use a connection directly from their unit to apply under the single-family home program?

No, they'd need to apply under the condos and apartments version of the program, and would have to adhere to any strata requirements and considerations around additional load, conduit upgrades, and future-proofing.

Get full details of EV charger rebates