Friday, October 25, 2013

Can condos and electric cars co-exist?

Electric cars and charging equipment are an easy fit for a single-family homeowner with a garage. For condo and apartment dwellers -- not so much.
More than one-third of San Diego County residents live in multi-family units, where overnight charging facilities are rarely available.
The California Energy Commission is teaming up with local government and private partners to come up with solutions to that equation in San Diego.
Campbell, Calif.-based ChargePoint, which operates the nation's most extensive public car charging network, won a competitive bidding process to help provide 206 electric vehicle charging stations at multi-unit dwelling locations in San Diego. The effort is backed by $500,000 in Energy Commission funding, derived largely from surcharges on motor vehicle registration fees and smog abatement fees.
San Diego Gas & Electric, the City of San Diego, and the San Diego Association of Governments will help identify owners of apartment buildings, condominium associations and mixed-use projects which have a need for charging stations, according to the Energy Commission.
Successful applicants get free charging equipment and two years of charging-network services, but must pay for the installation. (Charging software networks allow drivers to remotely seek out vacant charging stations and monitor the progress of a plugged-in vehicle, service now seen as crucial.)
"Overall you're significantly reducing the capital expenditure for getting this done," said Michael Jones, a San Diego-based director of strategic accounts for ChargePoint, on Wednesday.
California and seven other states this week announced a strategy to move 3.3 million plug-in electric and other nonpolluting vehicles off showroom floors by 2025 — an ambitious target driven by increasing concerns over gas prices, air pollution and climate change.
Small logistical challenges abound in wiring apartment and condo buildings for electric vehicles.
Carports can be located far from electrical service lines, or restrictive home- and condo-association rules and covenants that may need to be rewritten, said Jones of ChargePoint. Billing for electricity may require forethought as well.
"It may be a common meter, so you need to measure the electricity, be able to separate that out," Jones said.
Owners of properties with three housing units or more will be eligible. The deadline for applications is March 1, 2014, but immediate applications are being encouraged.
Projects completed before the end of the year are eligible for 30 percent federal tax credit against installation costs, for up to $30,000 per site, according to ChargePoint. It is not clear whether Congress will renew the credit.