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Austin, Electric Vehicle Charging Stations, and You

June 3, 2019

Leading automotive experts predict that at least 25% of vehicles on roads around the world will be electric by 2025. At the local level, research from Austin Energy reveals how Austin dominates the electric vehicle market, as it represents 22% of statewide demand. And with limited driving range where only the most top-of-the-line models can reach 300 miles-per-charge, electric car owners need regular access to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCSs).

To meet the charging needs of that increase in electric vehicle ownership, Austin now has nearly 700 charging stations across the city. It also has plans to construct more of the high-tech “DC Fast charger” versions that can provide up to an 80% charge in only 20 minutes.

At Winstead, we’ve taken notice of this increased interest, especially with high rise and mid-rise residential projects. If you’re considering EVCSs, we have 4 tips to help you make the transition, so everything runs smoothly for your properties.

1) Anticipate the Future

Why are ECVSs important to you as the homeowners association, owner, operator, and/or real estate agent for residential properties across the Live Music Capital of the World? Because they represent your chance to attract new buyers and position your project as forward-thinking and progressive. Austinites value both the appearance and delivery of technological innovation, so having even a single EVCS on your property enhances your project’s appeal and personality.

It’s imperative that condominiums proactively address the rising demand for EVCSs in Austin, even if no residents currently have electric vehicles. At properties that were designed and constructed even just a few years ago, we are seeing moratoriums on EVCS installations because with the piecemeal installation of EVCSs by individual residents, the property has already reached full electrical load – which leads us to our next point.

2) Create the Necessary Electrical Infrastructure

While charging stations might power the electric cars at your property, they won’t power themselves. This entails proactively planning for increased electricity capacity as consumers adapt to using ECVSs. While developers are now frequently accounting for the increased electrical capacity needed to charge electric cars, existing properties also have options available to address the increasing demand for electricity. A level 2 charging station uses about the same amount of electricity as a household dryer, but not all homeowners use their dryer every day after work, so the electricity usage of multiple EVCSs will be significant to the whole project. 

If you want to adapt your existing residential projects to accommodate charging stations, the smart move is to consider a comprehensive system installation. This should include conducting load calculations to determine the necessary infrastructure upgrades to account for the rising demand so you can appropriately budget and allocate costs for any upgrades.

3) Compile Your Policies

As you’d imagine, installing charging stations at your properties requires cohesive guidelines and procedures to be adopted by Boards of Directors. We recommend beginning with the following concepts and expanding from there to meet the specific context of each location:

  • Will the complex install one or more community stations?
  • Can individual owners install personal charging stations?
  • Will both options be permitted?
  • How will you regulate usage of individual charging stations to not overload the grid?
  • Will you require people to use a particular manufacturer’s EVCSs or installation company to facilitate electrical load management?
  • Will you set time limits on vehicles moving into and out of any community EVCS-equipped parking spaces?

If you decide to allow installation of individual charging stations, a legal review of the allocation of parking spaces should be conducted to determine ownership and use rights of common element garages. Any installation should be subject to review by the Board of Directors, similar to an architectural review, to assess the needs and desires of the whole community and, where possible, create efficiencies.

Additionally, if an EVCS is installed in a common element garage, you should require the owner to sign a license agreement including provisions that restrict the installation, maintenance, use, and eventual removal of the station. You should also require the owner to indemnify and carry insurance to protect the Association from liability.

Ultimately, piecemeal chargers in individual owners’ parking spaces will cause the building to run out of available electricity supply. Hence, most residential complexes are opting for community chargers, strictly regulating individual chargers, and adopting clear policies to control demand and limit conflicts between residents.

4) Seek Out the Advantages

As you might imagine, both installing and preparing for the installation of EVCSs at your properties comes with financial costs. However, now is a good time for early adopters to get available incentives.  The City of Austin has significant incentive programs in place, particularly for community charging stations. Austin Energy delivers the following options for properties, businesses, and individuals:

Home Charging – 50% rebate for the purchase and installation of a Level 2 station (up to $1,200).
Workplace Charging – 50% rebate for the purchase and installation of a Level 1 or 2 station (up to $4,000).
Multifamily Charging – 50% rebate for the purchase and installation of a Level 1 or 2 station (up to $4,000), and a rebate up to $10,000 to install a DC Fast Charger.

With these types of perks available across Austin, both real estate developers and homeowner associations should take action now to address the impending increased need for EVCSs and, in doing so, will be more attractive to homebuyers.

If you’re interested in adding EVCSs to your developments, Winstead has the crucial expertise you need to help you formulate a plan for future installations. Since people want to charge their EVs at home, when they shop, and at work, we work with residential, commercial and mixed-use properties. 

Together, we’ll address your budget, electricity supply, Austin Energy rebates, parking space assignment issues, rules and regulations, licenses to residents, and more. Prepare your complex for the future today!

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