Stories & Features

Charging incentives aim to make strata parking EV ready

Image of a Tesla charging on a Vancouver street
Forced to charge on the street, many electric car owners (and would-be owners) live in older apartments and strata complexes with no options for overnight charging. Rebates and technical assistance under B.C.'s new EV Ready program aim to help stratas plan and deliver on adding Level 2 charging to suite parking areas.

New funding announced for strategic planning, wiring retrofits for one stall per residential unit

While there are at least 15 B.C. municipalities where bylaws require that all new multi-unit residential buildings are constructed to pre-wire for electric vehicle charging in parking stalls, the bulk of apartments and stratas out there were built before those bylaws arrived. That's a lot of parking areas without EV charging, which can be a barrier to widespread EV adoption.

A first step in addressing that issue was to offer what have proven to be popular rebates of up to $2,000 per station for 50% funding of the installation and purchase of Level 2 chargers in the parking areas of multi-unit buildings. Over 200 stratas across B.C. jumped at that offer, but the incentive covers a maximum total incentive of $14,000 per building, so most stratas installed seven or fewer charging stations.

While the rebates were a positive first step, it's recognized that incremental installations of chargers for the earliest adopters could lead to issues for a strata as more and more residents demand at-home charging down the road.

"If 40A dedicated circuits are continually installed as chargers are added incrementally, it can lead to a building's electrical capacity being exhausted," says Reid Arkinstall, program manager for the EV charging initiative at BC Hydro. "Without an approach to 'future proof' a building for when EV adoption is much higher, stratas could be faced with the need to upgrade their electrical service, which can be costly when it can typically be avoided with some strategic planning."

To help address this issue, the BC Government's CleanBC EV charger program, which is administered by BC Hydro, has put together what it's billing as a more comprehensive EV Ready program offer. It's built on a platform of strategic planning and design that it hopes can make condo and apartment complexes EV ready.

"For this program, EV ready means that for every unit in that building, at least one of their parking stalls features an energized outlet with a cover that provides a final connection point in an electrical wiring installation for a Level 2 charger," says Arkinstall. "This approach has a higher initial one-time cost but is significantly less expensive per parking space compared to incrementally adding EV charger."

Designing and implementing EV Ready parking stalls, adds Arkinstall, leads to a simpler process for residents to add their charger. The comprehensive upgrades are already done.

Originally launched in December 2019, with an application deadline of February 28, 2021, the program has been continued with renewed funding from the B.C. Government.

Incentive will help cover planning, electrical infrastructure costs

With an up-front EV ready plan to provide such information as the building's electrical capacity, charging and infrastructure design options, the new program offers stratas the ability to deliver on a solution that allows for the installation of dozens, even hundreds, of chargers as residents demand them.

Rebates include:

  • A planning incentive of up to 75% of the costs to create an EV Ready Plan [PDF, 237 KB], up to a maximum of $3,000.
  • An infrastructure rebate of up to 50% of infrastructure and installation costs, to a maximum of $600 per parking stall, funded up to $80,000.
  • Additional funding for Level 2 chargers up to 50% of costs, to a maximum of $1,400 per charger, and up to a maximum of $14,000 per apartment/condo complex.

"The first component is around an EV-ready plan, almost like a feasibility study and assessment," says Arkinstall. "That will involve work with a professional engineer and/or electrical contractor to do a whole building assessment, including electrical capacity and which design would be best to allow the building to be EV ready."

That planning exercise will also analyze projected costs, and once implementation of the infrastructure retrofits begins, the CleanBC program will continue its support.

Arkinstall recognizes that a complete EV ready initiative can be a large financial commitment for stratas, and that it won't be a fit for everyone today. But for those who are serious about equipping their buildings for longer-term adoption of electric vehicles, it will be attractive.

At the core of the initiative is a move to help stratas save over the long term, as it's much less expensive to make stalls EV ready that to do incremental charger installs without the infrastructure in place. It also addresses some of the concerns expressed by Alliance members as they've worked with strata councils on EV charging projects.

"We really appreciate the work these contractors are doing," he says. "They're the ones working with these buildings from start to finish, and we've heard from them about the difficulties. We think these new incentives will help them make a more wholistic business case that works for the long term."

If you have any questions about the B.C. Government's CleanBC EV charger program, please contact alliance@bchydro.com.