British Columbia

EV plug-in rules spark frustration for Vancouver condo strata

The strata council at a new condo complex in South Vancouver is frustrated over federal government rules that state EV charging station users must be billed for the amount of time they're plugged in, rather than how much electricity they use.

Strata council wants to charge residents based on electricity used at charging station, not time

Shoreline strata council president Brian Bradley says he wants the federal government to allow for more accurate billing for EV charging stations such as the one in his building. (Meera Bains/CBC news)

The strata council at a South Vancouver condo complex is pushing for improved rules that would allow electric vehicle users to be billed for electricity used at the building's community EV charging station instead of forcing users to pay for the amount of time the vehicle is plugged in.

The issue of requiring payment from EV charging station users is complex because the charging capacity varies between vehicle makes and models, but federal government rules restrict the way people can be billed. 

BC Hydro predicts there will be at least 300,000 fully electric vehicles on the roads by 2030, bringing into question whether infrastructure will meet charging needs and how much it will cost.

Brian Bradley, strata council president at Shoreline, wants a recently installed EV charging station to be able to bill people according to how much electricity they use, but current rules mean EV users can only be charged for time spent plugged in.

The electric vehicle charging station at the Shoreline condo building bills users $1 per hour. (Meera Bains/CBC news)

"You would never go to a gas station and pay based on the time you spent at the gas station. That's just absurd. You pay for the amount of gas that you pump into your vehicle and electricity is no different," said Bradley.

He said Measurement Canada — which falls under the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development —has not certified the charging station to bill in that manner even though the technology has been around for several years and is used in the United States.

"Billing by time is both inaccurate and unfair because different electric vehicles charge at different rates, so you can have two vehicles charge for the same amount of time and get completely different amounts of energy."

Slow change for new technology

Measurement Canada said in a statement that the agency is closely following how the technology is being used and is looking at possible changes.

"The agency is participating in an international working group developing requirements for when EV charging stations begin to charge on the basis of measurement, and monitoring similar work in other jurisdictions such as in the U.S."

Neil MacEachern, the program manager for sustainable transportation with the Fraser Basin Council, said time-based billing is inaccurate and charging stations not certified by Measurement Canada can also be problematic.

He explained the discrepancies between non-certified devices and Measurement Canada certified charging stations are nominal and not a deal-breaker for people who want to purchase electric vehicles.

"In the grand scheme, because they're saving $150 a month on gasoline, they're not going to worry about the $3 of electricity that they might be overcharged for."

Still, he said for condo stratas that want to install EV charging stations, there are not many ways around the issue yet.

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