Charging Up for the EV Revolution

The electric vehicle revolution is nigh; are you ready for it?

Last year, the Canadian federal government introduced a landmark piece of law that will first attempt to curb before altogether banning the sale of gasoline-fueled vehicles across the country. Whatever your feelings might be on making the switch from gas-powered cars to EVs (and trust us, we know there are a lot of strong feelings out there on the subject!), the legislation is in place – so what’s your condo corporation going to do to prepare? 

Not quite sure? No problem. Catalyst project manager Dustin Gutsche has had his fair share of experience setting up condo communities for an electric future and is here today with some pointers to share on what your condo community can do to charge itself up for success.

Did we spark your curiosity? Read on to learn more. 


Lighting Round: Five Things to Know About Condos and EVs


1. EVs Then and Now

Electric vehicles can be a bit of a hard sell here in Alberta, and that’s oftentimes for good reason. Not only do they tend to go against the oil-centric mindset our province historically aligns with, but they’ve traditionally come with logistical hurdles that have gotten in the way of them being a real option for many individuals who live here. 

Our weather, of course, is one of the main factors at play. EVs can sometimes struggle with range and performance issues when the weather gets cold – and if you know anything about life in Alberta, you know that the weather gets really cold

Charging an EV in the setting of a condo building has been a bit of a crapshoot in past years. This is because, Gutsche informed us, most condo buildings were not built with the extra load required for EV charging taken into account, nor do they have the metering capabilities to allow individual owners to pay for their portion of electricity being used. 

That said, electric vehicles are the way forward here in Canada – so what can your condo building do to adapt? 


2. Do Your Due Diligence Before You Start Spending

First thing’s first: don’t just go out and start spending money on EV charging stations all willy-nilly! There’s a lot more to this complicated electrical infrastructure than just bolting a charger into the ground and plugging it into the wall, after all. Instead, you’ll need to start by doing a bit of fact-finding – as Gutsche takes the time to inform us. 

There are two things you’ll really want to get done when planning to upgrade your condo building with EV charging technology,” Gutsche explained. “First is a load study, which works to confirm just how much electricity you’re actually using in comparison to what your building can handle. Next, you’ll want to run a feasibility study, which addresses the question of whether you really can do these electrical upgrades in the first place on an infrastructural level.”

“The most important thing is not to spend any money on upgrading until you know if it will work,” Gutsche cautioned. “Ultimately, you’ll be looking to bring in an electrical engineer for the design. You’ll also need to do a review of the survey plan to make sure that where you’re putting stalls on property the corporation already owns – or, if the chargers are for individual owners, that they’re installed on property that they own.”


3. Catch Up with Your Residents – Regularly

Electric vehicles in condos represent a chicken-and-egg type scenario in that it’s tough to justify installing chargers when there aren’t any residents who own EVs, while most owners wouldn’t even consider buying an electric car when there aren’t EV chargers ready to go onsite. 

It’s here that communication is key. 

“Connect with your residents to gauge their interest in electric vehicle technology – and do so regularly,” Gutsche advised. “It should be a topic that comes up over and over, year after year at your annual general meeting: how many people would purchase an EV for their next vehicle if there was a plan to install car chargers in the building? How many people would go buy an electric car now if there were car chargers here now? That’s something you want to keep at the forefront as we head toward 2035 – and your AGM is the best place to have old business like that come up annually for discussion.”


4. Take Advantage of the Electric Sea Change

When it comes to aligning with government-mandated legislation, you can count on programs being available to help take the edge off some of the upfront costs. 

Watch for options in the market when you make the decision to move forward with an install,” Gutsche suggested. “There are likely going to be initiatives from the provincial government or from the municipal government to support or cover a portion of the cost for upgrades like these”, so keep an eye out for programs that can help your condo community through the process. 

“Also watch what the industry can present for options,” Gutsche continued, “because funding a project over a longer period of time through the revenue generated from electricity is a great solution that some vendors are willing to put forward.”


5. Condo Owners: Don’t Just Assume You Can Charge Your Car

The number of times condo owners have just gone out and bought a brand-new electric car assuming they can just charge it on the common property…” Gutsche shook his head with a chuckle, indicating that the number here is far greater than a single occurrence. 

“It creates friction, it’s a bylaw infraction to do that sort of thing without the cooperation of the board, and really, it’s unfair to other owners. If you condo corp doesn’t have EV charging stations don’t assume you can use the outdoor outlets without permission. Plugging a car for a block heater vs charging your EV vehicle is different. Reach out to your management company or reach out to your board for a solution!”

Gutsche’s reasoning here goes far beyond just logistics and fair cost-sharing, too. “What it comes down to is that you really want the non-EV participants to be supporters, to be advocates of improving the building and the technology – that’s how these initiatives will find success. If you’re the one Tesla owner in your building and you’ve been stealing electricity from the condo corporation, well…they might decide not to support an EV upgrade solely because they want to work against you.”

Petty? Maybe. But plausible? Most definitely. Work with your board and they’ll be happy to work with you. 

Attempt to go around them and, well…you might find it difficult getting to work every day without anywhere to charge your brand-new EV!

Thank you once again to Dustin Gutsche for taking the time to chat with us about everything EV. Want to learn more about how your condo community can prepare for the electric future? Contact us at Catalyst Condo Management today!