Back in April we looked at issues around electric vehicle (EV) charging in strata buildings and the resistance to it.
A couple of weeks ago almost 500 people logged in to a webinar about the challenges facing strata schemes and the solutions available to them.
And the NSW government’s department of Energy and Conservation launched a comprehensive website to guide owners through the electrical storm of possibilities, practicalities and, frankly, anti-EV piffle.
OK, it’s an NSW website but the issues are universal and related more to how strata schemes operate, than any specific state’s strata laws and by-laws.
A major point to come out of it was that there are, as we have said before, a lot of myths thrown up, potentially deterring strata schemes from making EV charging facilities available to residents.
Principal among them are mistaken beliefs that there is no demand, it’s technically hugely expensive and would “blow the fuses” in most blocks.
Other misinformation would have it that strata schemes are banned from reselling their power supplies to individual residents and that if you provided it for one owner, you must do so for everyone.
Dealing with them in order – and this is something investors and potential vendors especially should note – there are already reports that tenants and purchasers are turning away from blocks that have no EV charging and no plans to install it.
One speaker warned of recalcitrant blocks turning into “EV-free ghettos” with electric vehicle usage growing exponentially as supplies of vehicles increase, availability of EV charging spreads and prices of the vehicles and allied technology fall.
As for it being technically and financially prohibitive, speakers at the webinar outlined graduated uptake of the technology, starting with a single meter on a common property wall socket – allowing the only EV owner in your building to charge their car – and ending up with a fully integrated power management system.
As for blowing the fuses, most EV users are happy to charge their vehicles overnight – they don’t necessarily need or want the high powered fast charging docks – and technology exists to limit the times when charging can occur to evenings and nights when most blocks’ electrical usage is half their total capacity.
On the question of strata schemes supposedly not being allowed to resell their common property power supply, they are exempt under Australian laws on this. Meanwhile strata law allows schemes to provide services to individual owners.
There was a lot of fairly technical stuff in the webinar about load-sharing and back-boning. But one highly significant thought was that strata owners and tenants tend to change their cars more often than house owners and a lot plan to buy an EV at their next upgrade.
But all the techie talk and what-ifs related back to that first electric vehicle that turns up in your block needing to be charged overnight, and the first potential tenant or purchaser who chooses the block next door because it has EV charging and yours doesn’t.
You may need to start asking questions of your strata committee because any initiative in this area will probably begin or possibly end with your elected representatives.
Politely ask what their plans are for installing EV charging. If they have none, ask them what they would do if an owner or tenant asked if they could have a metered socket.
Then point them in the direction of the NSW government’s EV charging website for strata buildings; regardless of whether or not you’re in NSW, it has heaps of valuable information and document templates, including survey forms and by-law templates.
And log into the OCN’s EV charging portal which has everything from information to pro forma by-laws website ocn.org.au where a recording of the webinar will be available for streaming to members.
A version of this column previously appeared in the Australian Financial Review.