In Canada, the governing Liberal Party announced a mandatory target for all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks to be zero-emission by 2035. Many suburban homeowners are warming up to the idea of trading in their tried-and-true gasoline engines. With gas prices on the rise, and the federal government expanding its electric vehicle rebate program in April to include new larger, more expensive offerings from automakers, it may not be difficult to justify an investment in an upgraded 200-amp service and a home charging station.
The same is also true for new residential and high-rise construction where developers are keen to take advantage of clean technology incentives and rebates and recognize the long-term benefits of an all-electric infrastructure. However, the path to real EV adoption lies in building a robust infrastructure for city dwellers who did not have access to this technology in the past.
An EV challenge in older buildings
For residents of older, existing multi-tenant condo and residential buildings, charging station availability is a major issue. An April 2021 Metro Vancouver Climate Action Committee report found that despite EVs being key to the region reducing its carbon emissions, there wasn’t enough infrastructure in multi-residential buildings for drivers to charge their vehicles at home.
Installing one or two charging stations in older buildings shouldn’t present a problem. The additional electrical load won’t be significant and should be easily supported by the existing infrastructure. But ultimately, adding more than a few stations is where mass adoption may come to a screeching halt since the costs to retrofit an entire parking lot are significant.
A challenge for energy providers
Energy providers have been optimizing the way their grid is utilized for about a decade now. Many of us are familiar with time-of-use rates which enable us as consumers, and as Canadian citizens, not only to manage energy costs, but also to be more conscious of our collective energy usage and how it affects the infrastructure and the country we live in.
With the advent of mass EV charging, grid utilization patterns will experience a paradigm shift as hundreds of thousands of Canadians plug in their EVs after work. As governments continue to promote adoption of zero-emissions vehicles, our energy providers are challenged to scale their distribution grids to be able to accommodate significant loads associated with hundreds of thousands of future charging stations.
A range of rebates
Fortunately, there are rebates available to offset the cost of installing EV chargers. For example, B.C. and Québec offer rebates specifically targeted at multi-residential buildings.
In B.C, there are two provincial rebate options: the EV Ready rebate program and a standalone EV charger rebate.
For the first, there are three components. A rebate of up to $3,000 is offered for the creation of an EV-ready plan, which is defined as a professional strategy to have at least one EV charging spot available for each residential unit. The EV Ready infrastructure rebate offers buildings up to 50 per cent of costs to install the electrical infrastructure required to implement the EV Ready plan, to a maximum of $600 per parking space and a project maximum of $80,000. Finally, as of May 2022 the EV charger rebate has some limited-time increases, and offers up to $4,400 per charger (regularly $1,400) to purchase and install Level 2 networked EV chargers to implement your building’s EV Ready plan, to a maximum of $25,000 (normally $14,000).
As of May 2022, the second rebate offer has also increased temporarily. The EV charger rebate provides up to $5,000 per charger (regularly $2,000) for the purchase and installation of Level 2 networked EV chargers at residential parking spaces. This is up to a maximum of $25,000 (regularly $14,000).
In Québec, buildings can receive 50 per cent of eligible costs for the acquisition and installation of EV chargers, up to a maximum of $5,000 per wireless station or $5,000 per connector for charging stations with one or more connectors, which allow for simultaneous recharging for the equivalent number of electric vehicles. The maximum total a building can claim through the program varies depending on the number of units. The maximum for a building with 20+ residential units is $25,000.
Nationally, Natural Resources Canada accepted requests for proposal (RFP) for charging in public places, on-street, multi-unit residential buildings, workplaces and light-duty vehicle fleets until August 11, 2021. For Level 2 chargers, the ministry offered to cover up to 50 per cent of the total project cost, up to a maximum of $5,000 per connector. The ministry plans to launch another RFP process early this year.
With many people still working from home in the face of the global pandemic, smart building and smart community solutions aim to enhance the way property managers operate their infrastructure. Submetering systems, moisture sensors for leak detection and indoor air quality—among other Internet of Things (IoT) devices—are quickly becoming essential to providing an efficient and safe environment, especially in multi-residential buildings.
Experienced utilities providers can offer a robust smart building platform to ensure EV stations are seamlessly added to the building infrastructure as easily as installing new applications on a cellphone.
Besides providing a common interface to manage various maintenance tasks (service calls, resident move-in/out, etc.), these platforms can easily pair new EV chargers to their respective owners, so once the necessary power cabling is complete, energy consumption is added to the tenants’ electricity bills.
Accurate billing of residents and visitors for station usage is an out-of-the-box service, but as more stations are added to the platform in the future, energy and property managers will leverage the smart building and EV infrastructure to ensure optimal energy utilization, manage demand, and monitor other building operational efficiency metrics.
Rebates offered by the Canadian government significantly offset the initial costs, making it more affordable to set up an EV charging footprint and attract new residents—transforming the charging infrastructure into a stable source of recurring revenue.
There are many new solutions to put EV infrastructure within reach for Canadian developers and property managers looking to do their part in making the country a safer, cleaner, and smarter place to live.
Ilia Alexeev is a solutions architect with Trilliant, a global provider of smart communications platforms.