Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Green Amenities for HOA Property

There are nearly 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)  in California – 40 percent of the national PEV market.  Your homeowners association may have already received requests for charging stations on the property, especially in regions such as the Bay Area, greater Los Angeles, and San Diego where PEV adoption rates are high and many people live in multi-unit dwellings. But are charging stations right for your HOA?

This article discusses the PEV market, how to install charging stations, and what to consider for your unique property.   

Why Install Electric Car Charging Stations?

Installing charging stations on your property reflects a “green” image that may attract future residents to your community, and will also contribute to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accreditation for your HOA.

Additionally, new laws are continually being implemented to promote the growth of electric vehicles (to reduce emissions), which as a result stresses homeowners’ ability to install charging stations at multi-unit dwellings. Section 4745 of the Davis-Stirling Act(link is external) already protects the rights of multi-unit dwelling residents by making it illegal to prohibit or unreasonably restrict the installation of charging equipment in an owner’s designated parking space. The law states:

Any covenant, restriction, or condition…and any provision of a governing document…that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in an owner’s designated parking space…is void and unenforceable.

AB 2565(link is external) also recently passed, allowing renters to install car chargers on the property provided they adhere to specific circumstances. Laws like this show the increasing significance put on electric vehicles and the need for HOAs to begin planning ahead for future electric vehicle owning community members.

Plug-In Electric Vehicle Basics

What Is a Plug-In Electric Vehicle?

There are two types of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs): Battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).

BEVs operate exclusively on electricity stored in batteries and have an electric motor rather than a gasoline engine.

PHEVs combine both an electric motor and a gasoline engine in one vehicle.  The electric motor is battery-powered and can be plugged in to recharge and the gasoline engine can be refueled with gasoline.

How Do PEVs Charge?

PEVs need to be charged regularly in order to operate and to maximize their all-electric miles. There are two basic charging options that properties can consider:

Level 1: This level of charging only requires a standard 120-volt three-pronged wall outlet. All PEVs are equipped with a charging cord that plugs into these outlets.

Level 2: This level of charging requires a 208/240-volt power supply (similar to what is needed for a large household appliance like a dryer). Usually a professionally-installed charging unit is used to charge at this level.

Cost for Installing a Car Charging Station

Level 2 charging equipment costs more than Level 1, but also charges a PEV faster and may offer additional features such as billing and networking capabilities.  In addition to the equipment costs, wiring and installation costs need to be considered.

Installation costs vary depending on where parking spaces are located in relation to electrical service, the electrical capacity on-site, and transformer/service capacity available in the community. In some installations, trenching, new meters and electrical capacity upgrades may be necessary in order to successfully complete a project.

You should reach out to an electrical contractor(link is external) to evaluate your site and estimate the cost of installation.

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.

Not every installation will fit the above ownership scenarios. Multi-unit properties are unique. The property’s characteristics will ultimately inform the type of installation that is most suitable for the property.

Take a survey of residents and tenants to gauge interest in PEV charging.
Research the different(link is external) charging options(link is external) available for you. 
Contact an electrical contractor to evaluate your site and estimate the cost of installation.
Contact your local utility about available electric rates or rate impact for added services.
Create a goal for what you hope to accomplish with the project.
Determine and revise any policies and procedures to accommodate all the property’s PEV owners with charging options.
Inform all your residents about the new chargers installed.

Christine Kehoe is Executive Director of the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative(link is external).