This story was contributed by Kerry Mueller. Follow Kerry on Twitter @mueller_kerry
My desire to drive an electric vehicle while living in a condo at 144 Park St. in Waterloo, ON was what initiated this project. In the process, it was determined that many more condo owners than expected share that desire.
My name is Kerry Mueller. My husband, AJ Mueller, and I live at 144 Park St. On Aug. 1st 2014 we took possession of our new condo and a year later at the Turnover meeting AJ was voted onto the condo Board. Despite being a new building there was no provision for electric vehicle charging (EVC). AJ and I could see such an EVC retrofit project would be difficult to launch, so we considered moving to Toronto thinking we’d find condos there with EVC available. However, we soon found that:
- Condo buildings in Toronto rarely have EVC provisions (even new condos)
- If EVC was an option, the cost was significant (~ $10,000 – $18,000)
- Uptown Waterloo is more walkable, enjoyable and progressive than neighbourhoods in Toronto (in our opinions)
Consequently, we decided to stay in Waterloo and see how we could enable EVC at 144 Park. In Dec. of 2016 I reached out to Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR) to find out who had done such a condo retrofit for EVC. The advice was:
- Retrofitting of condo buildings for EVC was really unheard of.
- A guesstimate was that 5-8% of condo owners would purchase EVC however, demand would grow.
AJ and I then began to investigate what it would take to retrofit 144 Park. We determined:
- Jones Electric (Jones), 144 Park’s electrician was interested in working with us. Jones consulted with Waterloo North Hydro to determined there was enough surplus electricity in 144 Park’s electrical system to have up to 20% of the parking (roughly 8 allocations/floor x 4 floors of parking garage = 32 allocations) to have concurrent EVC @ 32kw/hr.
- Priority Sub-metering (Priority), 144 Park’s electricity sub-metering company was consulted. Priority confirmed they could supply the sub-metering panels (1 panel/parking level) to enable individual metering each electric vehicle’s usage. Priority would then add that additional usage to the condo owner’s monthly electricity invoice as a separate line item.
- The up-front cost for the EVC retrofit project to install 4 -200Amp 3-phase subpanels and 4 sub-metering modules to service 32 allocations would be approximately $50,000 excluding legal fees.
- Cost to a parking spot owner to purchase an EVC allocation (including cabling from the power subpanel to the owner’s deeded parking spot, installation of a fused disconnect switch and title registration of the improvement to the parking spot) came out to approximately $3,500 – $5,500 per allocation depending how far away from the subpanel the parking spot was located. Purchasers would subsequently supply their own EV charger and pay to have it hooked up and inspected when they were ready to charge their EV.
The above costs seemed reasonable to AJ and me.
We decided that the project had value on four levels:
- Determining the actual demand for EVC in this especially techy, progressive Waterloo Region by oversupplying the expected demand (20% vs the expected 5-8%)
- Enabling our ownership of an EV while we lived at 144 Park.
- Enabling many others at 144 Park to do the same
- Adding value to the units of the early adopters since EVC in condos is scarce and likely to remain so for years.
Hence, we decided to help “build it to see if they would come.” To do that we said to the Board that we would provide the up front “seed capital” to the Board for the infrastructure costs with no strings attached. The subsequent legal agreement states that AJ and I will be paid back by the Board incrementally as each EVC allocation is purchased from the Board. If all allocations are not sold, then AJ and I stand to lose some of that “seed capital.”
The good news is that in just a few months, 19 of the 32 allocations are sold.
The enthusiasm and demand for electric vehicles by condo owners is much higher than commonly expected. We have certainly seen that here at 144 Park.
A condo retrofit EVC project is difficult to launch at current demand levels. Our expectation is that few people will be willing to take the risk that AJ and I took at 144 Park to enable such a project.
Municipalities need to require new construction to include EVC infrastructure to help meet the growing demand for electric vehicles at the time when those buildings will be built.
Builders have typically not been including enough, if any, EVC options in their plans.
Once newly constructed condo buildings are offering EVC then older condo buildings will be compelled to do an EVC retrofit to compete in the real estate market.
AJ and I expect to have our seed capital back in much less time than we first expected (3 years instead of 8)We both love the electric vehicle driving experience. We expect many others will too.
Thanks for your interest in our story.