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Electric car charging at the condo outlet: who pays?

 
 
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 11:30 am
As a member of a condo board, I've actually given this issue some thought, even though, at present, we don't have anybody who owns an electric or hybrid car (I figure it's only a matter of time). I can see both sides' points. So what's the fairest way to deal with this situation?

Quote:
An Ottawa man is fighting the board of the condominium complex where he lives because it does not want him charging his electric car on other residents' dimes.

The board's president has told condo owner Mike Nemat that an outlet he has used to charge his car will be disconnected.

At a condo, all tenants share the electricity bill, but Nemat argues his Chevy Volt costs only about a dollar per night to recharge.

The board said it should not pay for fuel for electric cars because it does not pay to put fuel in other cars. But Nemat said he offered to pay for all the hydro costs caused when his vehicle is plugged into the outlet.


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Type: Discussion • Score: 27 • Views: 4,748 • Replies: 110

 
Miller
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 11:45 am
@joefromchicago,
If the outlet is not considered to be common property, according to the by-laws of the Condo assocociation, the owner of the car in question will have to pay the electric bill himself.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 11:48 am
@joefromchicago,
Maintaining the connection to the outlet he uses and just charging him some fee that would seem to cover the extra usage makes the most sense to me.

It would probably be difficult to figure it down to the penny, but if they figured it costs about a dollar a night, charge him $35/ month and be done with it.

Are they worried about overloading the system or something besides the money?
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 11:48 am
@joefromchicago,
Why can't the guy just pay an extra 30 bucks a month to cover the costs?

Cycloptichorn
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:06 pm
@Miller,
Miller wrote:

If the outlet is not considered to be common property, according to the by-laws of the Condo assocociation, the owner of the car in question will have to pay the electric bill himself.

In the story, it's a common outlet in the garage. Everybody pays for the electric bill through their assessments.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:09 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
Are they worried about overloading the system or something besides the money?

I think it really comes down to a fairness issue. The condo association doesn't pay for anybody else's gas, why should it pay for this guy's electricity? On the other hand, the proposed solution -- installing a $3,000 meter on the outlet -- seems rather drastic.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:10 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:

Why can't the guy just pay an extra 30 bucks a month to cover the costs?

Cycloptichorn

I believe the condo board rejected that type of solution.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:12 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Condo rules state Nemat could plug in a block heater for a conventional car, which requires similar power, at no cost.

But the board wants Nemat to install an individual meter at his outlet, which would cost $3,000.


most parking spots in condos/apartment buildings in Ottawa (much of central Canada in fact) would have a double outlet for each parking spot - one for the block heater, one for the battery blanket. Many office buildings have these double outlet hitching posts at every parking spot in their lots once you get past Ontario's near north.

the power to the individual outlets isn't metered - the board wants him to put in a separate meter

metering is a big political issue in Ontario right now - it was supposed to allow people an opportunity to use electricity off-peak, but most bills are higher now on metered homes/units than they were before the meters were installed
Thomas
 
  3  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:22 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
I think it really comes down to a fairness issue. The condo association doesn't pay for anybody else's gas, why should it pay for this guy's electricity?

Because it pays for anybody else's electricity, and doesn't care how people use that electricity.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:23 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:

Why can't the guy just pay an extra 30 bucks a month to cover the costs?

Cycloptichorn

I believe the condo board rejected that type of solution.


Did they give a reason why? It seems to be the most reasonable solution

Cycloptichorn
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:24 pm
@ehBeth,
Yeah, that's what gets me. I don't know how much it costs to charge an electric car, but I know anytime you use electricity to generate heat, that takes a lot of energy. So the condo association has no problem with residents using the common outlets for block heaters, but balks at them using common outlets as charging stations. I wonder if residents without cars are given a rebate to reflect the fact that they shouldn't be paying for heating the other residents' car engines.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:28 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:
I think it really comes down to a fairness issue. The condo association doesn't pay for anybody else's gas, why should it pay for this guy's electricity?

Because it pays for anybody else's electricity, and doesn't care how people use that electricity.

Well, up to a point...

I'm sure if someone ran a extension cord to one of the common outlets so that he could set up an industrial grinding machine or hot dog cart or something of that sort, the condo board would care how its electricity is used. I would imagine that the condo board doesn't care so long as everybody uses the common outlets more or less uniformly.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:30 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
Did they give a reason why? It seems to be the most reasonable solution

A condo board giving a reason for its arbitrary actions?

Heh, good one.
0 Replies
 
Joe Nation
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:31 pm
@joefromchicago,
It's pretty easy to find out what has the biggest draw on the electricity.
How many kilowatt hours are needed to operate/refuel each device?
(I would bet the 1500 watt heater used for eight hours costs more.)
You can figure the cost from the data on the back of electricity bill.
Joe(don't forget to add on a portion for the taxes and fees.)Nation
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:32 pm
@joefromchicago,
Why wouldn't they install a $300 meter like this one instead of a $3000 meter? Just running around town I use around a tank a week so approximately ~$40. Assuming his car is smaller and has better efficiency, he is spending maybe $20/week give or take, maybe as little as $10. I can't see the condo subsidizing that but I think they should be receptive to staying with the times. It sounds like there is an opportunity for a commercial product that takes a charge card (pun intended) and allows you to pay for your usage. If we can charge out movies and music in dollar intervals we should be able to meter public electricity.
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:38 pm
@joefromchicago,
This is going to sound a little strange, but how about the association paying for the meter installation? It might sound excessive, but it seems like it's one of the very rare investments that will pay for itself and generate a return (or reduction of expense) in a year or less.

Now, from the driver's standpoint, he might end up in a position of paying for block heating juice that no one else is required to pay for, but he is compensated by having the meter installed at condo expense. I'm not really sure he would need a block heater, though he might need a battery blanket of some sort.

No way is he entitled to what amounts to free motor fuel at the expense of the other owners.
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:41 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

Why wouldn't they install a $300 meter like this one instead of a $3000 meter?

Well, keep in my mind we're talking about Canadians here.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:41 pm
@roger,
Oops! I just realized that while the meter would pay for its installation in reduced expenses, the expense properly belongs to the driver, anyway.

Still, it is time for the association to formulate some policy. These electric gizzerblinkers can't become less common than they are now.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 12:53 pm
@joefromchicago,
Well, I'm not sure if you want to discuss a practical solution for a real-world problem, or if you want to discuss the principle of it.

If you want to discuss the practical issue, I say have the condo association put a meter on the joint outlet. Then have the members check in and out as they use electricity. Alternatively, shut off the meter and force the owners of electric cars to run extension cables from their private outlets. Whichever is cheaper.

If you want to discuss the principle, I say that shared resources will be used unequally. Electricity is no different in that regard than all the other shared resources a condo offers. By joining a condo association rather than buying their own houses, members have agreed that they can live with free-rider problems like that. Quitchabellyaching.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 31 Jan, 2012 03:13 pm
@Thomas,
I think one of the problems is that the car owner was making the "practical argument," and the condo association was making the "principles argument."

Thomas wrote:
By joining a condo association rather than buying their own houses, members have agreed that they can live with free-rider problems like that.

Up to a point. In my building, water usage is only metered at the building level, not at the individual units, so everyone pays for their water usage through assessments. That's fine as long as everybody uses water in a normal fashion. If somebody opened a commercial laundry in one of the units, on the other hand, I think the other residents would have reason to object.

Thomas wrote:
Quitchabellyaching.

Yeah, like that's ever going to happen.
 

 
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