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There are thousands of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) on the road today, and industry analysts predict the amount will continue to rise. Plugging in at home is the preferred method for most PEV drivers to charge their vehicles, because of the low cost and convenience. They simply plug in and go inside to enjoy the evening while their vehicle charges overnight.

That works great if you live in a house, but people living in multi dwelling units (MDUs), such as apartment buildings and condos, may not have that option. Depending on the parking configuration and the access to outlets, they may need to locate a public charging station. In large cities where a big portion of the population lives in MDUs, this may present a challenge. PEV drivers who live in MDUs, may have more complex physical structures, assigned parking, and numerous stakeholders. Offering PEV charging is a great amenity to attract new tenants. Another option may be workplace charging.

Since analysts predict PEV ownership will rise, now is a great time for MDU management to prepare. Here are the five steps to take to add PEV charging at MDUs.
1. Get approval from the building owners.

  • Create an advisory committee of interested residents.
  • Contact third parties with experience for help. These could include PEV industry experts in your area and residents of MDUs who have implemented charging policies.

2. Establish responsibility for the cost of equipment and installation.

  • Poll residents to determine charging needs, and interest.
    – High interest from a large number of the residents may encourage building management to assume the cost.
    – Interested residents could pitch in to help cover some of the cost.
    – If there is not a high level of interest, that may be an indicator that the interested residents will have to assume all costs.
  • Contact an electric vehicle service provider (EVSP) to learn about assistance with equipment and installation costs.
    – In this case, users would pay the EVSP per charging session or kilowatt-hour used.

3. Select the best payment system for electricity usage.

  • If your MUD configuration allows, connect charging stations to the residents’ existing service meter.
  • Connect the charging stations to the building’s common area meter and create a system to account for payment and usage.
    – Bill for time or parking space use through smart charging equipment.
    – Charge users a flat monthly fee based on estimated usage.
    – If you use an EVSP, users would pay the EVSP, and the EVSP would reimburse the building management for electrical usage.

4. Plan the most cost-effective installation, considering the available capacity.

  • Level-1 charging stations maximize the amount of stations that can be added with the existing capacity, and they require no equipment other than a 120-volt outlet.
  • Another option is a hybrid solution with Level-1 stations serving most of the residents and a few Level-2 charging stations in common area parking spaces, available on a pay-per-use basis.

5. Plan for potential changes to assigned parking.

  • PEV charging should be close to your electric panel to avoid potentially expensive installations. This might mean reassigning resident’s parking spaces.
  • PEV parking spots could be located in the MDUs shared or public spaces.
  • Keep in mind the accessibility of PEV charging for disabled residents or visitors.

Are PEVs practical?

Yes, they are! Most people have an average total commute of under 40 miles per day. This is well within the range of current PEVs. You could also choose a plug-in hybrid to get extended range.

Did you know?

If you drive a PEV for 1,000 miles per month and only charged at home, it would only increase your electric bill by about $35. This is about one full tank for a number of gas-powered vehicles. This would also reduce or eliminate expenses incurred due to gas consumption.

10 Steps for Creating a PEV Charging Policy at MDUs

  • 1. Create a committee to express resident interest to building management.
  • 2. Poll residents to determine PEV interest to estimate charging needs.
  • 3. Determine the number of Level-1 and/or Level-2 charging stations needed. Plan for future needs.
  • 4. Contact a contractor to assess the electrical capacity of the building and to discuss options and costs.
  • 5. Determine type of electric vehicle service equipment and where to source it.
  • 6. Re-assign parking spaces, if needed, to help keep installation costs down.
  • 7. Refine and finalize policy for payment by residents. Present to residents and building management.
  • 8. Finalize installation plan and get multiple quotes for the job.
  • 9. Hire licensed contractor to obtain proper permits, complete installation, and call for city/county inspection.
  • 10. Inform residents of new charging stations and charging policies and initiate charging program.

What’s the appeal of PEVs?

  • Cost less to operate
  • Release fewer emissions
  • Help our nation achieve energy independence by drastically reducing oil consumption
  • FUN to drive with quick and smooth acceleration, sophisticated displays, and smartphone apps