15 East 3rd Avenue
Vancouver, BC V5T 1C5
Vancouver council considers mandatory installation of electric car chargers
July 8, 2009 — Danson
City could require 10 per cent of new condo parking spots to include electric car chargers
Vancouver city council will soon decide whether to force developers to install electric car-charging stations in at least 10 per cent of all new condo parking lots — a proposal that’s creating a chicken-or-the-egg debate.
If the vote goes through Thursday, Vancouver would be the first city in Canada with such a mandate for residential buildings. In addition to the 10-per-cent requirement for condo parking spaces, it would also see the city install a limited number of public charging stations at its EasyPark lots, eventually expand this to include on-street locations, and develop a strategy for retrofitting existing buildings.
“Electric cars are coming. They are in Europe and in Japan,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson, echoing observers who see that while Vancouver might lead Canada, it would be playing catch up to many cities elsewhere, such as San Francisco and Paris, which already each have hundreds of charging stations and growing culture for electric car use. “We need to be prepared.”
City staff estimate that the cost of installing chargers for 10 per cent of parking spaces, with allowance for future upgrades, would cost less than 0.5 per cent of the building cost.
They believe that, while this would be a new cost to developers, it would “enable early adoption of EVs [electric vehicles] in our community, allow for later expansion as the market demands, allow the development industry to test the market take-up and introduce limited new costs that are not likely to adversely affect land values.”
The proposal would include an 18-month grace period for these requirements and support “developers to find possible strategies to offset the new incremental costs associated with this infrastructure.”
This, however, seems to be of little comfort to developers, who would like to see the ratio for charging stations reduced from 10 per cent to five per cent of parking stalls.
In April, city staff made a proposal to the Urban Development Institute, which represents developers, that charging infrastructure would be required for 20 per cent of parking stalls. UDI responded that this ratio was too high, “given the cost of providing the infrastructure, the lack of widespread market penetration of the vehicle technology, and BC Hydro’s capacity to deliver the additional power required to charge these vehicles.”
On Tuesday, Jeff Fisher, deputy executive director of UDI, said the organization is working with the city, but has some specific concerns.
“We are always supportive of going green and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but we want to make sure that this is the right green-car technology. There are a number out there. We have had hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and concepts like the ‘hydrogen highway’ for some time. We feel it might be premature to mandate this.”
He added that while 0.5 per cent of the cost of the building is small, “when you look at the cost of other fees that the industry is facing, in aggregate, it is more significant.”
Fisher said that, for now, UDI would prefer to see a voluntarily or incentive-based approach to making charging stations available. Part of the conundrum is that there are currently fewer than 10 such electric vehicles in the city. A few months ago, the City of Vancouver and BC Hydro signed an agreement with Mitsubishi Motors to use its newly-launched iMiev electric vehicle as test run models for their fleets. It’s not clear yet exactly how many vehicles this will involve and exactly when they would arrive, but the hope is that orders would quickly increase.
Don Chander, past president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, which supports the proposal, said that providing infrastructure for charging electric vehicles in all new multi-family residential buildings is increasingly important as density increases. He added that some 18 major automakers have announced electric vehicle models, making it “urgent to start building this infrastructure.” The VEVA estimates that the average cost of implementing EV infrastructure at the time of construction is around $1,500 per parking stall.