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Electric vehicle charging stations can be a revenue-generator for co-ops and condos.
AUTHORDon Wilson, President, Blue Woods Management
Electric-vehicle charging stations can jump-start a revenue stream. The average out-of-pocket cost to install an electric-vehicle charging station is in the range of $20,000 per station, but almost all of that is refundable by either the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority or Con Edison. And then the electricity that’s consumed has to be metered, and the people who use it end up getting billed for it. A co-op or condominium can actually charge a little more than what they’re paying for that electricity, so that charging station can not only pay for itself, but the co-op or condominium could earn a few extra dollars.
Location matters. Where to locate charging stations is one of the biggest hurdles a board or the management company has to figure out. Most charging stations have two connections. So if you put a station on a wall between two parking spots, both of those shareholders could use that station. Obviously, you can also install them outdoors if you have outdoor parking lots. We’ve tried to find strategic locations so that it doesn’t become a problem in the wintertime when snow has to be plowed, and it doesn’t become an obstruction for other people trying to get in and out of their parking spots or their garage spots.
I’ve been looking at several of our buildings that have both indoor garages and outdoor parking lots. In most cases we’ve been able to find a location where we could install one or more stations without creating inconvenience for the non-electric car users.
Rebates to the rescue. The rebates are based on the hardware – the actual charging station – and the infrastructure. In other words, the bill from the electrician for running the line from the power source in the building out to wherever this station is going to be – that is basically 100% reimbursable. You have to run a dedicated line out to that location. So that can be a bit of a problem, too, depending on how far away the power source is. Most buildings have room for additional dedicated circuit breakers that could serve the charging stations, but they do need to be separate. You can’t piggyback them onto other circuits that might be for the laundry room or the hallway lights.
Garage operators can get in the game, too. I think most garage operators are well aware of this trend and are probably installing charging stations on their own. If they control the electricity in that space, then they could actually make more money from the people who use those charging stations. If I had a building where we were leasing out the garage and for some reason the garage operator did not want to install it, I would sit down with them and try to convince them that maybe some partnership could be formed where they wouldn’t really be in the picture, but they would allow the co-op or condominium to install that charging station. I think it’s going to be a huge benefit for the residents.
An attraction for apartment buyers. We brought this subject up to our boards recently because it just seems like almost every day there’s another article about the popularity of these electric cars. Just yesterday, I believe I read that Ford is committing $30 billion to electric vehicles. I think apartment buyers are going to start looking for charging stations and asking about them. I have to admit, we haven’t been overrun with requests, but I think it’s going to be the next question on the co-op questionnaires that we get every day about any particular building, where buyers ask a hundred questions about the building. That one hasn’t showed up yet, but I think it will in the near future.