EV charging: Strata facts explained, myths exploded


With the launch of the new electric vehicle charging website at the ‘Drive Electric – EV-ready Buildings’ webinar this week, one of the speakers, Owners Corporation Network (OCN) chair Fred Tuckwell has compiled this report on how strata schemes often get it wrong on EV charging, and why.

UPDATE: I belatedly tried to sign up for this only to be told it had sold out and I was on a wait-list. How you sell out a webinar is beyond me but at least you know how much interest there is.

THE WORLD is turning to electric vehicles to reduce emissions and limit global warming, however a serious concern for potential EV owners is a lack of charging infrastructure[1] and an overwhelming preference to charge at home overnight.

This is fine in a standalone household, where you can simply plug into a suitable power point or even install a higher capacity purpose-built EV charger in your garage.  But what do you do if you are one of the 1.2 million people in NSW who live in an apartment building?

Apartment buildings come in all shapes and sizes, from just one or two apartments to hundreds of apartments with commercial areas. Each has their challenges, like communal decision-making about common property, and electricity meters remote from the garage area.  How do you as a prospective EV owner navigate all this to have your EV charged at home?

The good news is that, as part of Minister Kean’s sustainability initiatives, OCN has been working with the NSW Government to establish a comprehensive website that addresses all the aspects involved in answering this question. 

The website steps through who is responsible for what, provides a simple five step process to guide decision making, and offers five options owners corporations might consider in determining the best solution for their building.  All supported with cost estimates, resources like helpful forms, fact sheets and case studies.

Much has been written about issues with installing EV chargers in apartment buildings and many opinions expressed, resulting in a set of myths.  The purpose of this piece is to bust those myths and make it easier to get more EVs on the road.

Myth 1 – You need to do expensive building energy supply upgrades.

Fact:  Buildings are designed for peak energy capacity, which is typically a very hot summer afternoon with all the air conditioners on and everyone cooking dinner.  This is not the time to charge an EV.  Outside this peak demand period there is more than enough energy available to charge any number of EVs in the foreseeable future.  It is simply a matter of using load or energy usage control, like a simple timer to tap into the off-peak capacity, or use a demand management system to switch off the EV charger if the pre-set building demand is exceeded.

Myth 2:  You need fast charging in apartments.

Fact:  With EVs you can simply keep the ‘tank’ full with top-ups of electricity, just like your mobile phone.  The data shows the majority of owners slow charge their EV overnight using a power point or EV specific medium capacity charger in their garage.  Sure, there are some applications in strata buildings where owners corporations may choose to share resources on common property, and in these instances a higher capacity charger may be of benefit.

Myth 3: You can’t bill owners for energy usage.

Fact:  Owners corporations are ‘deemed’ exempt under the AER (Australian Energy Regulator) exempt selling guidelines, so there is no requirement for owners corporations to register or have a licence to on-sell energy.

Myth 4:  You can’t charge from a normal power point.

Fact:  You can charge an EV from a power point. It just takes time, which is why most people use power points overnight.  However, there are real limits to how many EVs can plug in to a normal power circuit, which is where energy assessments and load control are used to identify, add to, and protect those circuits.

Myth 5:  EVs will never take off.

Fact:  Most vehicle manufacturers have EV plans, with many announcing they will stop Internal Combustion Engine vehicle production within the coming decade.  Consensus is that 10% of new vehicle sales globally will be EV by 2025, with Australia reaching 10% by 2030. 

So stop making excuses and enable EV charging in your building. This is one real way owners corporations and residents can contribute to emission reductions.

About OCN – Owners Corporation Network (ocn.org.au) is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to help strata owners navigate the complexities of strata living, from social and organisational challenges to financial and legal issues.

[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/future-of-mobility/electric-vehicle-trends-2030.html

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    UPDATE: I belatedly tried to sign up for this only to be told it had sold out and I was on a wait-list. How you sell out a webinar is beyond me but at least you know how much interest there is.

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