British Columbia

Electric vehicle group pushes for better charging rules in condo buildings

Victoria Electric Vehicle association is asking the federal government to allow for billing based on the amount of electricity used rather than the amount of time spent plugged into a charging station.

EV owners say they are being overcharged at plugin stations

As of 2019, nine per cent of new car sales in B.C. are electric. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Electric vehicle users want Ottawa to make sure they are paying a fair amount for charging their cars in their own condo buildings.

Some strata councils ask drivers to pay based on the amount of time the car is plugged in, as required under federal government rules. But drivers say that leads to overbilling compared to fees based on the amount of electricity used. 

An infrastructure specialist with the Victoria Electric Vehicle association says the federal government needs to act quickly on the issue as the popularity of EVs grow.

"Charging by time results in considerable excess charges and is unfair," James Hindson said.

His group has asked the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development for a fast fix because more condos are installing charging technology. Measurement Canada, a government agency, must certify meters for charging stations before they can bill for electricity and has not yet licensed technology to track the amount of electricity used for each charge even though it is available.

The agency has said it is "closely following how this technology is being used and is taking part in an international working group to develop requirements for when EV charging stations begin to charge on the basis of measurement."

Hindson says the discrepancy means time-based billing can cost drivers 10 times as much.

"Depending on the car you have, you could end up paying over a dollar a kilowatt hour, which is several times the cost of electricity — which is around nine or 10 cents a kilowatt [hour]," Hindson said.

He's concerned that infrastructure for EV vehicles won't meet the needs of drivers in the coming decade. 

Brian Bradley, a strata council president in Vancouver, has run into the same problem after a charging station was installed in his building.

He said cars draw varying amounts of electricity per hour depending on the make and model.

"The majority of EVs on the road today have 3.3-kilowatt-hour onboard chargers," explained Bradley. "That means that they will, every time, pay double for the electricity they receive at a Level 2 charging station than someone with a newer EV with a 6.6-kilowatt-hour onboard charger."

Level 2 chargers are the most on the market and have electrical requirements similar to a clothes dryer.

Some public charging stations are still free.

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