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Can Condos Coexist With Electric Cars? Volt Owner To Be Cut Off

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2012 Chevrolet Volt

2012 Chevrolet Volt

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Ask any automaker, and they'll tell you they believe most early electric cars will be charged at night, in garages attached to private houses.

That would seem to cut out residents of multiple dwellings, from rental apartments to condominium complexes.

But electric car owners are resourceful; they'll find a way to charge using any available outlet.

That was what Mike Nemat, a resident of the 160-unit South Keys condo complex in Ottawa, Ontario, did when he bought a 2012 Chevrolet Volt.

He plugged his Volt into an outlet on the top floor of his garage each night, using (by his estimation) about C$24 a month of electricity (or "hydro," as Canadians often call it).

Now his complex is threatening to deactivate the plug, according to local news reports--despite Nemat's offer to pay them $50 per month.

It's unclear whether the condo board has a bias against electric cars, as Nemat suggests, or whether it doesn't believe his calculations.

The math is simple: The Volt uses a maximum of 10.4 kWh from its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, so allowing 13 kilowatt-hours for a full charge (plus thermal conditioning) each night for 30 nights would total 390 kWh. At the local cost of C$0.062/kWh, that works out to C$24.18 per month.

Robert Charette, the condo corporation's general manager, appears adamant. He said he "didn't care" if Nemat offered $100 a month; he said the condo "wasn't prepared for it."

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Enlarge Photo

The building has suggested that Nemat pay the cost of installing a separate electric meter to measure the power going to the 110-Volt socket he uses. That would cost him more than C$2,000, money Nemat isn't prepared to spend.

But Charette seems to dismiss the notion of electric-car charging in the building altogether, saying that when electric cars "become a factor in the world," perhaps "someone will set up (power) stations in the area."

The condominium has now turned the matter over to its lawyers.

The oddest part of all this is that Ottawa, like many Canadian cities with frigid winters, is quite used to seeing cars with electric cords hanging out the grille.

They're for electric block heaters to keep the oil from getting too viscous, and plugging in cars during winter is a well-established practice in parts of the country.

One rather wonders whether Charette or the building's lawyer have prohibited residents from plugging in their block heaters.

What do you think? Should Nemat be allowed to use the 110-Volt plug in his condo garage? What should he pay for the power he uses?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.

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Comments (23)
  1. Let him pay and charge.
     
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  2. He should do what they say.

    Install a $25 Kill-a-Watt and pay them based on what the Kill-a-Watts says.

    If that isn't good enough, can I make him a piece of plywood with at $75 refurbished revenue grade mechanical meter on it with a power plug on one end and an outlet on the other end? Plug the meter into the outlet and plug the car into the meter.
     
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  3. This is a good exemple of how some people doesn't understand what electrics cars are all about. I'm using a Nissan Leaf with a carsharing company in Montréal. I often came back to plug the car to found out that conventional car was parked in our reserved spots. People don't understand the problems that they are creating. Maybe that the solution if to have cities pass some regulation to make sure that electric car owner doesn't suffer from those people. Parking into a charging station should cost a lot of money. Also, people should have the right to plug in almost any secure 110V without having to meter their consumption. AS the article point out, it's really easy to guestimate the consumption anyway.
     
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  4. So now electricity should be a fundamental right? I disagree that they shouldn't be metered. They should. I think it should be done with credit card when out and about and if you see a plug that isn't metered you should ask permission first.
     
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  5. There is a device called a Kill-a-Watt which I use to determine
    electrical usage for any device - it costs about $20 as I recall.
    Plug it into the condo's outlet and then the Volt 120V plug into
    it. It will measure everything electrical about the current passing thru it, including the number of kilowatthours.
     
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  6. If it is a condo then he owns the unit he lives in. The condo's association should be happy to work with their tenants not boss them around. It's not like he damaged the stupid building and refused to pay for damages.
     
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  7. UPDATE: Courtesy of the Volt Owners Group, I learn that in California, homeowners' associations can NOT interfere with an owner of an EV wanting to put in EVSE--even in common areas. Gov. Brown signed that mid last year. The laws in Ontario, Canada may be different. The umbrella insurance can be tricky if it's in a common area. Here's the law that Brown signed: http://newsletters.davis-stirling.com/Docs/sb209.pdf
     
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  8. I thought the Volt was an extended range vehicle and the gas engine charges the battery, so why would he ever need to plug it into an outlet. Either way, if he is willing to pay for the electricity he uses, I can't see any problem and I would be surprised if Canada could find a problem with that and deny him the right to charge his car.
     
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  9. @James: The Volt IS an extended-range electric car, but the goal is for drivers to do as much mileage as possible on electricity from the grid. That is both cheaper and, in many areas (including eastern Canada), far less polluting.

    Also, the Volt's gasoline range extender does NOT recharge the battery much, just a few percent. It delivers power (through the battery pack) to the electric traction motor that powers the wheels. The pack is recharged on wall current.
     
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  10. Isn't part of the problem here that he didn't ask for permission? I would never just plug in somewhere without permission.
     
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  11. I agree, I wouldn't want make anyone angry by just plugging-in which is what seems to have happend. Still if this is a condo that makes this guy a part owner of the building, he should have asked but his association should be willing to accommodate their residents not start a dispute.
     
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  12. Let's see... he parks in HIS garage at HIS condo. Who else is supposed to use the outlet inside his garage? If he was outside, I agree asking is always best. But the way the story reads, this is inside his own garage!
     
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  13. @Leo: As noted below, apparently "condo" means different things to different people. In this case, it's an apartment building with a shared parking structure for dozens or hundreds of cars--it's not his own individual garage structure attached to a freestanding unit that's his.
     
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  14. Multi-unit dwellings are some of the most challenging situations for plug-in vehicle owners. Owners need to do their homework and develop policies within their communities BEFORE they bring a car home (involve building management resident associations). Laws in CA and HI have tried to make it easier, but also impose requirements for liability insurance. The electricity used from a plug is always going to be charged to someone. So take the time to prepare for your plug-in's arrival. Contact your utility for additional information on options for metering in your region and look at GoElectricDrive.com for lists of "charger" suppliers and the different types of reporting/time purchase business models available that may help your community.
     
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  15. But Charette seems to dismiss the notion of electric-car charging in the building altogether, saying that when electric cars "become a factor in the world," perhaps "someone will set up (power) stations in the area."
     
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  16. You can substitute any electric device in his statement and it would clearly lack even the most common level of basic thought. Imagine someone saying, when electric toothbrushes become a factor in the world perhaps someone will set up stations in the area. It's just plugging in the way plugs were meant to be used, and at a hefty (exorbitant?) rate of profit. Seems like this petty tyrant is none too bright.

    Hard to imagine someone so lacking and actually holding a decision making position of power over others.
     
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  17. the Kill a Watt does not save the information so it would be difficult for any verification on the condo manager's part unless he was willing to log a reading daily. this is just another example of the clueless thinking they know what is going on. its pathetic that much of the groundless negative impressions EV's cause is based on FUD primarily perpetrated by Big Oil
     
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  18. Sounds like he is hanging a long unsightly extension cord down the outside of the building past other condos. I would think this cord would be the biggest objection. He should pay for an outlet to be installed where he parks, but the meter is not required. He could show the association the Volts'records of charging each month until they get tired of seeing the same figures each month. Then he should pay that extra calculated amount. We pay over twice that rate in Toronto.
     
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  19. @Roy: If it wasn't clear, the condo has a multi-car garage, and there's a plug on the wall near the space he uses. This has nothing to do with long extension cords hung out of windows.
     
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  20. Most here are missing the point, IMO. The problem may be that the condo association knows that too many vehicles may overload the circuits that are built into the main panel. Without knowing more details of why the rejection and how the buildings are wired, that is the most logical explanation. Also, the power company may have designed the association's distribution network to the expected peak load, with a small safety factor. Perhaps if there were automobiles with a Quick Battery Exchange feature available, such as those for sale in China by Kandi Technologies, Better Place, Zolt etc. there would be no problen as the batteries are charged remotely and changed at a Quick BAttery Exchaingte Station in less than 5 minutes when depleted.
     
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  21. I've had the same problem where I live, but he should read his articles/bylaws/rules/regulations... if his monthly dues include all utilities, then all utilities means all utilities.

    What does the condo association do in the following scenarios: When people plug in their laptops, phones, and portable devices then leave the house with that power!? What about when people make a dinner or bake a cake using HOA energy, then leave the house with this food?! Wash their clothes and leave the house with those clothes?! Heaven forbid!

    Here's the workaround: get a portable charging pack, charge it inside his condo, then go downstairs and plug his volt into the charging pack!
     
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  22. This is one of those unfair life situations where a would be slum lord tyrant building manager gets his jollies by inflicting hardship on others. The cost of going to court and losing would be more than the 2k to install a separate meter, so installing the meter would seem to be the sensible way to turn the other cheek. On the other hand, if he takes it to court and wins, then the building board aught to fire Charette for being so ignorant as to not notice that electric cars are here now. The "someone" that should set up power stations is Charette, and he is delinquent in his duty and vision.
     
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  23. Rule number 1 of condo ownership, ask the condo board before plugging into to an outlet in the common areas.

    I won't judge the general manager as shortsighted, consider this: What if someone were to trip over his charging cord? Who is primarily liable, Nemat or the condo association? Does the condo association bear some liability for allowing him to plug in?

    As a condo owner, I would be very upset if the association were sued because someone tripped over my neighbor's charging cable. That's a huge potential expense that can increase the association's costs and my association fees.
     
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