Equitability Across the Socio-Economic Spectrum: EV Charging Systems for Multiple Dwelling Units

Author photo: Jim Frazer and Smart Cities Team
ByJim Frazer and Smart Cities Team
Technology Trends

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure and EV charging systems are being implemented at an unprecedented rate, and now with government incentives spurring installations that rapid growth continues its acceleration. One of the primary issues surrounding EV adoption is the widespread availability of charging infrastructure, and multiple dwelling units like condominiums and apartment complexes can create a challenge. Here's what ARC analysts Jim Frazer, Peter Manos, and Rick Rys had to say about this issue in our recent ARC Smart Cities Podcast.  

EV Charging Systems

How do electric vehicle owners living in apartments or condominiums charge their electric vehicles?

Rick Rys: 
This is a pretty big problem if you are one of those people living there, who want an EV and your landlord/condo association is reluctant to install a charger, right? In fact, as soon as they ask your landlord to install a charger, you know he's going to have to dedicate that to wherever your parking spot is, so you better have your own personal parking spot that other people are not using. As soon as he upgrades the panels suddenly that may impose new electrical codes and. And if this building is 20 thirty 50 years old. All of a sudden it gets very expensive for the landlord to upgrade the entire electrical electric panels to the latest electrical codes. Here in New England, most new construction is required to put a EV charging circuit in every house. So building codes require EV charging, but obviously the older houses didn't anticipate EV charging. You do have a lot of incentives. However, many of those government incentives and subsidies to landlords benefit the primarily higher income property owners and higher income tenants. This will follow kind of an overreaching pattern of EV incentives in general, which generally raises up some equity concerns by not helping the people at the lowest level of income.

Will capacitive charging address some of these issues?

Rick Rys
You're talking about wireless charging, you know, and it's got a long way to go. There are suppliers that will sell a wireless charger. You can come home and park over a spot without having to plug it in. For the home situation, it's very easy to just plug in your car. However there’s  also the extra expense of building a wireless charger into your vehicle because there's equipment required on the vehicle side. And then also on the floor or ground. You know, there's some possibility that buses might be able to charge at various bus stops in this way. But, you know, it's it doesn't seem that it's very likely that soon. The wireless so called capacitive charging is a big play at the moment.

Challenges for regulated transmission and distribution utilities

Peter Manos
The Public Utilities Commission cannot offer something to one group of people in its service territory that it's not offering the equivalent to another group. So when you get into renters? There’s an equitability issue. And it’s not just for a future wireless charging scenario. Not just for the electric vehicles, but also for building charging stations. Potentially there needs to be a corresponding program, not just for the wealthy people in the suburbs, but also for the renters in the medium and moderate-income, low-income communities regarding charging stations and other capabilities. That's a social obligation that utilities have and many embrace very positively because of how tied they are to their communities, they have a stake in the economic health and well-being of their communities.




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