Condo, Strata and HOA News

Condos Can Equal Free Fuel for Electric Cars

Three years ago, when I was president of a 107 unit condominium, I suggested that we may have to take steps to regulate the electrical outlets in the underground parking. I was assuming that at some time an owner would buy an electric car and plug in at night. As electric charges for all common AND titled spaces were paid out of condominium fees (no individual meters) for that condominium, I wasn’t about to have someone freeload their “gas” off the rest of the owners.

I was scoffed and laughed at (awww, poor me!).

Well, Mike Nemat of South Keys condominium, Ottawa Ontario, was doing just that – slipping his power cord into a common property wall socket for his 2012 Chevrolet Volt. Now, once he got caught, he’s been offering to pay $50/month for the right to plug in (he estimates the actual electric bill is about $24/month).

The board is having nothing to do with it, and requires Mr. Nemat to install a $2000 meter to continue his siphoning ways. That’s not going well with Mr. Namat.

The board is within their power to demand a separate meter. Indeed, they’re well within their rights to deny Mr. Nemat access to any electricity served through the common property – and unless the condominium’s by-laws are really poorly written, they should back up the board on that fact.

While I am all for getting off the monkey’s tail of fossil fuels – older, and even newer condominiums – aren’t designed for electric car charging. All new construction moving forward though should have parking stalls that, at minimum, have the wiring and sufficient grid to power every car at once – even if they’re not activated or metered till sometime in the future. Retrofitting will be a pain.

Mr. Nemat should in all honesty have approached his condominium board first before buying his car. It’s much like new owners who buy a condo already possessing a vehicle that’s longer or taller than the by-laws allow, and then complain about the board preventing them from using their titled parking spot. Too bad.

4 responses to “Condos Can Equal Free Fuel for Electric Cars

  1. Chris Jaglowitz (@chrisjaglowitz) 31 January, 2012 at 4:56 am

    You should be renting out your crystal ball, Stephen! It could do so much good in the world! 🙂

    During his radio interview (which was much more revealing than the written or television versions of the story), Mr. Nemat quite properly admitted that he was naive for not having approached the board before acquiring his car, and he admits that the board could have some legitimate concerns. The problem, however, is that his decisions effectively back him into a corner and limits his options pretty significantly, such that a spectacular blowout with the board becomes unavoidable.

    He’s got 40,000 reasons not to capitulate in his position, and the board has plenty of reasons to stick to their guns. This isn’t going to end without some bruising.

    All is not lost, however. There are some service providers that can offer innovative technological solutions that could address the problem. Mr. Nemat simply has to come up with one of those alternative options and convince the board to go along, in order to bail himself out.

  2. Jeff Hubbs 25 March, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I am a degreed electrical engineer currently in the Public Policy Masters program at Georgia Tech. One of the things I study is considerations involving electric cars. Mr. Nemat was generous to offer $50/month to cover electricity his Chevy Volt consumes and the condo board should have accepted it. The real issue going forward should have been how to accommodate additional plug-in vehicles; there are going to be limits to how many of them their garage can support. A commercial electrical contractor can increase those limits for a cost, but the board’s reaction is unreasonable, asking Mr. Nemat to pay $2000 for a utility meter just for his car. Robert Charette, the condo’s general manager, is quoted as saying “Maybe when (electric cars) become a factor in the world, maybe someone will set up (power) stations in the area.” Mr. Charette does not recognize that that time has already arrived. The outlets in the parking garage were there in the first place to power engine block heaters, which take about the same amount of power every night as Nemat’s Volt!!

  3. Jeff Hubbs 25 March, 2012 at 12:21 am

    Furthermore, Stephen Cassady’s analogy regarding vehicles that are longer or taller than a condo’s by-laws allow is faulty. Apparently there is no by-law prohibition against electrical power consumption by a parked vehicle or use of the outlets for engine block heaters would be prohibited. Here, the condo board is capriciously placing an extra restriction based on what the car uses the electricity for.

    Also, to lend some perspective, the maximum amount of energy the Volt’s batteries hold is a little less than that of half a gallon (about two liters) of gasoline, so if anyone is bothered by Mr. Nemat’s Volt but isn’t bothered by the use of block heaters taking about the same amount of electricity, they can at least take comfort that we’re not talking about very much “fuel” at all.

  4. banks210 13 April, 2012 at 1:47 am

    i am buying an apartment and the building goes with underground parking, whcih is a great thing, very convenient for me. And i’d pay extra $25 or $50 to have everything settled down and not warry about anything. sorry you got laughed at, poor youu! You had a great idea
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