By on January 27, 2012

A Chevrolet Volt owner in Ottawa, Ontario has been blocked by his condominium board from charging his Chevrolet Volt – even though he has offered to reimburse the board for the $1 (approximately) in electricity it takes to charge the Volt at local rates.

Mike Nemat, who bought a Volt a couple months back, lives in a high-rise condominium building where tenants collectively share the cost of things like electricity bills. Nemat has an electrical outlet near his parking spot, originally intended for an engine block heater, that he’s been using to charge his Volt.

Under the condo’s rules, Nemat is allowed to use a block heater, which consumes almost as much electricity as a Volt. But if Nemat wants to use his outlet for charging purposes, the board says he must install a separate electrical meter, at a cost of $3,000. The board claims that they do not subsidize the fueling of other vehicles, and therefore shouldn’t be paying for electricity for the Volt – Nemat offered to reimburse the board for any electricity used, but the board still declined (though without a meter, a precise figure couldn’t be determined), and will disable that particular outlet.

One of Nemat’s neighbors had a pragmatic take on it, suggesting that someone using a toaster or leaving the lights on all night is just as much of a drain on electricity as Nemat’s Volt. Increasing numbers of Canadians in urban areas live in these buildings, and some are friendlier than others – one Toronto condo even hosts Tesla Toronto’s vehicles and allows them use of a 240V charging station. Nemat and his Volt are likely the tip of the iceberg with respect to this issue – as plug-in vehicles and higher density housing take root (and really, a downtown condo owner is the kind of person that a Nissan Leaf is perfectly suited for), there will be increased demand for charging stations.

Disclaimer: The above photo is not Nemat’s Volt. I tested a Volt for a week in December, and parked it at a public garage which has a 240V EV charging station. One day, a Durango took my spot, and so I parked it next to a standard 110V outlet and used the factory trickle charger. I came back to find the unit unplugged, thus ruining my 4-day streak of not using a single drop of gasoline. In typical Canadian fashion, the cord was neatly drapped across the side-mirror, the charge port door had been closed and the trickle charger unit placed off to the side and out of harm’s way. I can only assume it was done by a security guard who thought I was “stealing electricity” from the garage.

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100 Comments on “Canadian Condo Won’t Let Chevrolet Volt Owner Charge His Car...”


  • avatar
    lubbock57

    I was having a real tough time trying to figure out why you’d need a block heater outlet while parking in a heated underground parking garage until he said it wasn’t the owners car. Sounds like something our government would do though.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Everybody, everywhere has to learn to adapt to the new world. Condo boards, are for the most part populated by people that are not connected to the modern world.

    My buddy moved out of a condo because the board wouldn’t approve the instalation of a modern cable system. They argued that the attenna on the roof, installed in the seventies,worked just fine!

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      Could be worse, could be a Co-Op board in NYC :/

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        One of my brothers and his wife now live in a high-rise in Manhattan and they made accommodations with the HOA to plug in their Leaf. They pay an additional $50 per month in fees to cover any and all expenses for the use of an outlet to charge the Leaf.

        Point here is, it depends on the Home Owners Association Board how welcome PEVs are. In my brother’s case, there are several residents in this high-rise who own a PEV, all of them seniors.

        Problem is that the outlets are not on separate breakers. This means that if he’s already drawing 10-15 amps and someone plugs in a Shop-Vac vacuum cleaner, the breaker often pops.

        The breaker panel is in the basement and not accessible by the residents. If the breaker does not get reset by someone with access, my brother receives zero charging overnight. That has happened several times already.

        They have a second sedan for when the battery in the Leaf is low. And while there are several charging stations listed for their area, finding one that is not already in use, or being blocked from use by a non-PEV, is another thing altogether.

    • 0 avatar
      moedaman

      That’s why I always tell people to stay clear of condos and home owner associations. Too many “wanna be” dictators on those boards.

  • avatar
    Feds

    Sounds like Mr. Nemat needs to invest in some Romex. A DIY extension cord from his kitchen down to the parking garage should take care of any of the condo board’s issues.

    Alternatively, re-route the wiring through the hood. “No Guys, I swear, it’s totally a block heater.”

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      lives in a high-rise condominium building where tenants collectively share the cost of things like electricity bills…One of Nemat’s neighbors had a pragmatic take on it, suggesting that someone using a toaster or leaving the lights on all night is just as much of a drain on electricity as Nemat’s Volt.

      I’m reading it that the utilities aren’t metered by unit and the total cost is paid out of the condo fee.

      • 0 avatar
        V572625694

        Most likely the association pays the electric bill for common areas (hallways and garages) while individual owners have meters. I live in a high-rise condo and recently bought a Prius. I’d have gotten a Volt or a Leaf or waited for the plugin Prius, but am pretty sure our board, which is risk averse, would nix the install. I don’t have an outlet near my spaces, and the walls of the parking garage are poured concrete. The $3K this owner looked at for a meter charge seems not unreasonable

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Why in the F does an electricity meter cost $3K?! What’s rong with fifty bucks?

  • avatar
    tparkit

    Yes, highrise buildings not bending for electric car owners looks like a barrier:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/evs-encounter-condo-conundrum/

    But I’m not sure it will matter in the long run; electric cars look like little more than a faddish, expensive attempt by politicians — and their friends at parasitic firms like GE — to surf the green wave. Car makers will nonetheless build these vehicles, to position themselves to take advantage in the event governments try to hand favored automakers a fat, valuable carbon credit (i.e. Washington/GM/UAW).

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Because the oil will last forever?

      I’m thinking that if Iran starts sinking tankers in the Gulf and gas hits $12 a gallon, you’ll change your tune?

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        As long as one thinks of fuel as an unending supply available from the corner station, decoupled from the real world (like ground beef is something magically appearing in the grocery decoupled from the slaughter process) or rejects the fact of it being a commodity that is of limited supply, becoming increasingly difficult, dirty and harmful to extract and use, then it is exceedingly easy to make simplistic rearward looking comments and to cling to an antiquated energy-source/-use paradigm despite all evidence to the contrary.

      • 0 avatar
        dejal1

        And make the electricity with dirty coal. If the administration has their way a whole bunch of coal power plants will shut down.

        I don’t see the west coast having brown and black outs in the future like they’ve had in the past. There will be enough electricty for everything.

        But we can’t build a tar sands pipeline because of the danger.

        So, we can ship the sand by railroad tanker cars. The Sierra Club says the pipeline would be much safer than railroad cars.

        Who happens to have the closest rail line? BNSF. Who owns BSNF? Berkshire Hathaway. Who owns Berkshire Hathaway? Warren Buffet. Who is the presidents favorite billionaire? Warren Buffet.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        That we are talking about the best way to get our energy from tar sands should stand as pretty good proof that we are dependent on the wrong kind of energy to make our economy go…

        California’s capacity situation is due to issues unrelated with the ability to increase it… And would charging one’s vehicle overnight, off-peak, kinda side-step the capacity issue?

        And in the meantime, we continue to expatriate our wealth to a bunch of well-head-controlling despots who use that wealth against us…

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      So, politicians around the globe, most major manufacturers (around the world) and a good deal of academia (global) are all behind the move away from fossil fuels. I think it’s a bit arrogant to assume its all a lame conspiracy that only involves the USA and a questionable connection to politics and unions.

      • 0 avatar
        tparkit

        The leftist conspiracy to shift to subsidized alternative energy while levying green taxes is global.

        …and, BTW, practically speaking there is no end to the petroleum resources available, both in the US and elsewhere. The notion that we will run out is calculated, alarmist disinformation intended to panic the public into endorsing a statist takeover of the economy by using energy and the environment as levers.

      • 0 avatar

        @tparkit

        what sort of financial gain do the leftists expect to get out of their conspiracy?

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        what sort of financial gain do the leftists expect to get out of their conspiracy?

        Who needs financial gain when you have power? When you have the power you just TAKE the money… (And the women!)

      • 0 avatar
        smokingclutch

        @David Holtzman

        Cap-and-trade systems very well could be set up to help line the pockets of friends, family, and major donors to politicians. I certainly could also see plenty of ways in which they could use their connections to steer alternative energy government contracts in ways that could be profitable to them or their donors.

        It’s really no different than local and state governments steering road construction contracts to companies owned by friends or donors. Whenever there are politicians, you can be sure corruption is not far behind.

        This is neither a leftist nor rightist issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Educator(of teachers)Dan

        http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/01/fossil_fuel_subsidies_and_global_warming_we_could_cut_the_climate_change_problem_in_half_simply_by_abolishing_inefficient_fossil_fuel_subsidies_.html

        Only posting this because this thread is getting so political so fast. Here’s a “money blogger” trying to logic out simply eliminating government subsidies for fossil fuels.

      • 0 avatar

        Thanks Dan. That was really interesting.

  • avatar
    67dodgeman

    I can only assume it was done by a security guard who thought I was “stealing electricity” from the garage.

    Ummm – unless you were paying for the electricity, or had permission to use it (either direct or implied), then you were indeed “stealing electricity”. Even if it’s only a few dollars a day. I don’t quite understand what other people don’t understand about that. As an adult who’s had to pay a monthly electric bill for the past 3 decades, I’m very clear on the entire concept that electricity is not free.

    As for the condo, if it allows one tenant to recharge, then it must allow all tenants to recharge. If next week they all buy Volts and Leafs and whatever, then they’ll all want to recharge. It may be that the condo garage cannot handle the load or power requirements of that many cars re-charging every night.

    • 0 avatar

      People use those outlets to charge their electric scooters and use block heaters in said garage. They do not get unplugged.

      • 0 avatar
        67dodgeman

        Not trying to be argumentative – but do those other people have permission? Written, oral, or implied? Just because someone else got away with it doesn’t mean it’s legal. Block heaters and electric car batteries are two different things, BTW, so permission for one usage doesn’t necessarily imply permission for the other.

        And I still have a hard time believing it’s only a dollar or two a day.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Toronto has hydro power, not sure how much per KWh they charge, but an overnite Volt charge from completely empty would be 10-12KWh. In Texas that would run you (in winter) probably US$0.80-0.96 for that charge, which would get you 30-35mi (in a Texas winter). Factor in electrical losses you may go up to US$1.15 or so.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete K

        67Dodge…you could take 5 minutes to do some research…

        The average cost per kWh for electricity is .12 per kilowatt hour…the Volt needs 12.9 kWh for a full charge…that’s about a $1.50 and that’s on the high side. Off-peak charging is considerably lower…sometimes as low as .6 per kWh.

        I really am shocked at how intellectually lazy most people are. They will make assumptions or jump to conclusions without taking any effort to do the simplest of research. It’s no wonder there is a housing crisis and an obesity epidemic. There’s no personal responsibility…people don’t research what they’re eating or what they’re getting themselves into financially…

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Kluttz

      If it’s only a dollar overnight, it’s not that much of a load.

      • 0 avatar
        cmoibenlepro

        It’s 365.25$ per year.

        Normal that the condo board doesn’t want to give it for free.

      • 0 avatar
        Lokki

        Not for one car, but what would happen if EV’s became popular and there were 10 or 12 cars?
        If you didn’t bill the first guy how could you bill the tenth guy?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        If you didn’t bill the first guy how could you bill the tenth guy?

        According to this story, he offered to pay.

        If there was a desire to work things out, then they would just haggle over the price. For whatever reason, that doesn’t appear to be happening here, which would lead one to believe that it isn’t really about money.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        I’m surprised Canada isn’t subsidizing installation of these chargers. In the US, the garage owner would likely be mostly or fully reimbursed for the cost of the charger + installation, depending on where you are. I believe Austin is still doing fairly significant subsidies for chargers, and I’d imagine California cities have that sort of thing as well.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        I had a block heater on one of my vehicles when I was travelling through through the frozen north, it pulled approximately 250w (on 110v) continuously. I’d think recharging a Volt would take more than that?

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Yes, the charging units we have at work are protected by two pole 60 amp breakers, so not doubt it draws more current and consumes more power for a given equal period of time than a block heater. But if the block heater is running for 12 hours and the charger runs for 4, there may not be much difference in overall KWH delivered. You have to do the math. If there is much difference, the Volt owner could pay the difference. However, as we see, the people who are on the board of Boca Del Vista Phase Five are usually inflexible bastards (sorry Dad) who often get off on being out of touch obstructionists who like to act like dictators. Another reason why I will never, ever, live in one of these places, even though I’m likely to inherit one in God’s Waiting Room (Florida). I guess it will come in handy if I need a break from a glorious New England winter.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      +1 I am a Property Manager at a major downtown condo and I could spend half my day chasing electric scooters who are trying to plug in for free. The worst part is that since the underground garage is not heated, it is necessary to have heat tracers attached to the drip drums (part of the sprinkler system). If these heat tracers are unplugged and the condensate freezes, there could be a burst pipe and thousands of dollars in damage.
      I even caught a very expensive electric scooter up in the PH level, plugged into power in the hallway! How they got the huge thing in the elevators without scratching anything is beyond me.
      We have not had any Volt or Leaf owners approach us yet. I have had preliminary discussions with the Board and have spoken to an electrician who also quoted $3k for installation of a metered power line. These parking spaces are deeded, so we would not be able to group them together to get a break on the price.
      Theft is theft. In Ontario, the Condo Act is very specific and the Board can be held personally liable if they do not act in the best interests of the Corporation.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Just what I need. To live in a “Corporation”…NO THANKS. Now make sure you park exactly between the lines, ok? And stop stepping on the sprinkler heads. No, the pool can’t be warmed up one more degree. And I told you, NO open car hoods!!! AH, life is beautiful..

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Go easy on the condo broads. They’re in a tough position. As unit owners, they’re laypeople who have to rely on the advice of the management companies and the lawyers. If the ground rules aren’t clear about the legalities, then they have to do what’s best for the strata corporation. It’s a thankless position to be in.

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    i find it hard to beleive the volt will use a mere $1 of electricity left overnight

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Maybe Ottawa gets most of its power from hydro and prices are really low?

      • 0 avatar
        TR4

        The $1 per day is about right. Off-peak electricity is available in Ottawa for 6.2 cents per kWh per this:
        http://www.hydroottawa.com/residential/index.cfm?lang=e&template_id=156
        Multiply the Volt’s 16kWh battery capacity by 6.2 and you get $0.992.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Volt would likely not charge 16KWh except in emergency situations (like if you ran out of gas and had to limp home or to a station), IIRC the usable charge is 10-12KWh. So it would cost even less.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Don’t forget that this energy conversion process is not occur with 100% efficacy. So the battery rating will not be an exact measure of KWH delivered. Then again as D K Noisewater said, the battery will not likely be fully depleted.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    well on the flip side, that few dollars of electricity per day still amounts to a few dollars, which in my book is theft if they didnt have permission.

  • avatar
    bunkie

    $3000 for a meter? That’s some serious installation cost considering that a meter with housing costs under $200 (and that’s for a network-connected model).

    • 0 avatar
      Lokki

      Bunkie – $3K was what Nissan quoting for putting one (high speed) into a single family dwelling garage.

    • 0 avatar

      Kill A Watt meter, starting at $19.95 http://www.amazon.com/P3-International-P4400-Electricity-Monitor/dp/B00009MDBU/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1327703244&sr=1-1

      He needs to offer to install one of these in a lockable clear plastic box (like for thermostats), give the condo board the key, and reimburse them for the kwh used. Doesn’t need no stinking $3k meter.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      The power does not magically show up at pilar-side. It would have to be run back to the nearest panel, then connected (via internet) to the energy company that monitors (and charges for) the power. There is no meter-man (or person!) at newer buildings these days. Everything is online for them to ‘read.’
      In larger buildings, you can be looking at running 100 meters of conduit (has to conform to code!) across ceilings, etc. Many buildings are looking into this. The smart thing to do would be to clump owners of electric vehicles together and have one area designated as metered electrical service; however, that would only work in buildings where the parking spaces were rented, and even then long term renters would kick up a fuss at being asked to move so there space could be designated for electric vehicles.
      Believe me, it ain’t a picnic holding hands to 300+ unit owners – or worse, their tenants.

  • avatar
    Lokki

    When I went to the Leaf event here in Dallas, a major power company was in attendance promising to scatter 90 or so public charging stations throughout the city (I recall Whole Foods and Barnes & Noble being mentioned). The Leaf has a built-in Nav system which allows you to plan your route so that you don’t run out of range. It also flags these public chargers so that you can build your route around them.

    These were apparently ‘speed chargers’ and were also apparently free. I can see a problem developing of daily ‘charger/campers’ i.e. people who live or work close enough to conveniently leave their cars there all day or all night.

    I have to say however that I don’t really see enough potential market penetration happening here in Dallas for this to actually become a problem. The problems for EV’s in Dallas are range, high speeds, and high summer temperatures. Our ‘downtown’ low speed areas aren’t big enough for the low speed efficiency benefits to out weigh the impact of high speed throughway use along with the energy demands generated by our long 100 degree summers.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      I went to the Atlanta Leaf event. One of the Nissan representatives was explaining how some retailers are installing chargers with spots right up front. Obviously there are incentives on both sides: the store gets your business, you get to park right up front and get complementary charging (no pun intended).

      It got me thinking about how the dedicated premium spots equipped with chargers will be enforced. I would be pretty ticked to pull my (hypothetical) Leaf into the lot, only to find all the spots are taken by gas-burning cars or Volts, which don’t necessarily require to be plugged in to go. All this after using the onboard GPS to carefully plan my trips to include places with charging stations. The obvious answer is don’t rely on getting a free charge at Whole Foods, but I envison some pretty bad road rage fighting over these free charging spots.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    F–king Luddites.

    I get that the value proposition of the Volt is seriously flawed, and I cannot foresee circumstances where I will be buying either a PHUV, or a Hybrid, anytime soon. In fact, I believe that I will die happily owning one if not more ICE vehicles…..and classic, retro big-booty ones at that….

    However, this board is being unreasonable and childish in extremis. Flogging and public ridicule are warranted.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      It is far more complex than the layperson would think. Try reading the Ontario Condominium Act (1999). I have. Dozens of times. Boards are expected to protect the assets of the corporation. Electricity is an asset. Canada is not quite as litigious as the U.S., but we’re catching up, and the Condo Act is superseded by the Ontario Human Rights Code – that is one fine piece of legislation you folks south of the border don’t have to hold your nose up to.
      We have to be fair to EVERYONE. So, that means coming down hard on someone who is caught ‘stealing’ electricity. If not, and a precedent is set, well an irate owner can apply to the Courts of compensation.
      Directors & Officers insurance does not cover negligence.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete K

        It’s ironic that this Volt will be pulling only a little bit more juice than a block heater. Not to mention that this guy offered to pay more based on his knowledge of what the car needs and what the off-peak cost per kWh is…

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    As if this car dd not have enough problems already, now you can’t even charge it in peace, I guess this means if you live in a condo forget about betting ANY EV.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    It sounds like a bit of negotiation would solve matters. The building already has power supply to parking area’s and the guy is willing to pay… Not sure what the problem is.
    This guy should offer to sign an addendum to his lease were the condo board allows the Volt to be charged for a fixed monthly fee that will cover power costs and makes the board extra money that, when there are other takers, can be used to upgrade the power supplies and / or install charging stations. That way the
    Making the guy pay for the charging station is just greedy, rude and short sighted.

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      You might wish to point out to the idiots on the association board what they probably don’t realize…… that marketing their association as “EV friendly” and “green” will likely increase the number of people interested in living there, making their condos more desirable, and thus worth more; Thus,they would all be PERSONALLY better off financially. Not sure what the Real Estate market in downtown Ottawa is, but here is South Bend, every little bit helps, eh?

      (Appealling to a person’s self interest is usually the way to their hearts…)

      Then again, maybe those Ottawa condo owners KNOW what type of liberal, tree-hugging scalawags actually DRIVE those infernal Volts, and just simpy do not wish to deign to allow those persons into their neighborhood….. ;^) Jus’ sayin’.

      • 0 avatar

        Mark, you’re in South Bend? Have you ever made it down to the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum? Definitely worth the hour’s drive from SB. A few months ago I planned a two day trip to see the Gilmore, Studebaker, and ACD museums. Actually I ended up seeing five, because I stayed in Elkhart where the RV museum is, and there’s the NATMUS which has more modern cars, adjacent to the ACD museum.

        To keep this on topic, the Studebaker museum has at least one Studebaker electric, which they made before making gasoline powered cars.

  • avatar
    TR4

    Not much sympathy from me:
    1. Block heaters are likely used only 3-4 months per year but the Volt will be charged 12 months per year.
    2. If you can afford $40K for the Volt, an extra $3K isn’t THAT much extra.
    3. EV owners get a free ride by not paying fuel taxes used for road maintenance.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      EV drivers do not get a free ride. What is so hard to understand about this?

      Do you think that businesses, which accept deliveries, which have fuel taxes built into the prices of these said deliveries are magically waived to owners of EV cars when they purchase a product?

      “Sir, you’re price will 2.02 for that large drip coffee.”

      “But, I drive an EV. Don’t forget about my special discount”

      “Oh, okay. Once I subtract fuel the fuel tax built into our prices, your new price is 1.83. Have a great day, and thanks for being an early adopter”

      And 3K extra on top of 40K is A LOT just to be able to recharge a vehicle.

      Plus if you read the article, he offered to pay the board for the electricity. Maybe it’s more than a dollar a day. Maybe it’s not. Depends on how far he is driving. You know, sort of like if I have a 3 mile commute, I’ll use a lot less gas than if I have a 45 mile commute.

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      I do wonder how things will play out in England, where they will actually prosecute you for running your diesel on WVO or self-made biodiesel.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    What a bunch of idiots. Your garden variety electric meter runs $140, not sure how that translates to Canadian:
    http://www.byramlabs.com/product_info.php/products_id/33/product/ElsterAB1%20kWh%20Meter,%201-Phase

    Even if you triple that to account for a communications module and installation, you’re still nowhere close to three grand.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    I’m just still wondering why anyone would want a Volt.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    IIRC the volt can be charged with the ICE built on board. If that is the case this seems to be much about very little. Mother Earth Magazine told of a working model from 1970 that got 70mpg without plugging in.

    I am a big fan of electric cars and not much of a fan of something for nothing folks. I fail to see a tremendous problem here.

  • avatar
    Rob Finfrock

    Isn’t this something Nemat really should have checked on, and gotten clear approval for from the board, before he signed the note on his $40,000 Volt?

  • avatar
    peteinsonj

    Having lived in my share of condos, I can tell you that few decisions are made that aren’t parochial.

    And few decisions are highly rational. I bet that if the Board President of this association (or one of their friends) got the Volt — this would be a non issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      I can tell you that few decisions are made that aren’t parochial.

      Folks, we have a winner.

      The politics of condo boards and homeowners associations provide great examples of how many people can become petty tyrants when given half a chance. For all we know, the Volt owner is having some sort of conflict with one of the board members, and this is just part of a bigger pissing contest that has little or nothing to do with the car.

      • 0 avatar

        Fans of big government are just homeowners association nannies writ large.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        PC101: +1000. If a board member had a Volt, the rules would change. Or if the board is populated by anti “green” thinkers, GM haters, or something like that, changing the rules will never take place. Scale up your typical board any you can understand why we have gridlock in Washington…..

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        For all we know…? We know nothing of the specifics, but I do know the Ontario Condo Act inside and out. From balcony satellite dishes to mats in the hallways (firecode violation), the Board or its agent, Property Management does not get to choose what regulations it gets to enforce or ignore.
        Depending on how old the declaration and by-laws of the condo corporation are, and whether the parking spaces are deeded or not, the entire building may be paying for the upkeep of the garage, or just the owners of the parking spaces. In either event, I can assure you that a very vocal group will show up at the next AGM and freak out over so-and-so plugging in their car or scooter.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Property Management does not get to choose what regulations it gets to enforce or ignore.

        I have serious doubts that there is a restriction that specifically prevents residents from either charging up plug-in hybrids or from using the electrical outlet, particularly when there are already outlets provided for block heaters.

        In any case, you’re helping to prove the point. A lot of the folks who get involved in the management of these things are not particularly easy to deal with. Forgive me for pointing out that you’re not exactly contradicting the stereotype.

        There’s a difference between making a good faith effort to follow the rules, and in behaving like a relentless drama queen who works overtime to (mis)interpret rules in the most unpleasant manner possible. And if there actually is a rule that forbids this, then one would hope that reasonable people could figure out a way to change the rules in a manner that could reasonably accommodate a resident without harming the others.

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        Pch101 – first off, do you live in a condo? If not, how about I run an extension cord across the driveway and plug my Volt into your receptacle and you can pay for my driving to work. Fair?
        If you do live in a condo, exactly how many have you managed? Do you live in Ontario (where Ottawa happens to be?) Are the vast majority of construction starts in your community condos? Have you read the Condo Act for your State or Province?
        If the answer to any of these questions is NO, then although you are entitled to have an opinion, it is worth exactly what? Zip? Zero?
        Sorry if I sound argumentative, but in NO declaration will it be said that electricity in the underground can be used by a resident. NONE. NOT EVER. If electrical receptacles even exist in the underground, they are there for the use of the contractors/workers as they go about performing the ‘duties’ of the corporation. I strongly suspect the building in question is allowing block heaters to be used on a whim, which could be overturned by an irate home owner within seconds.
        Changes to the declaration require a vote of 90% of ALL residents in Ontario. A by-law (which might apply in this case) would require 50% of the owners to vote in favor. Since in some buildings today (thanks to recent municipal changes), 50% of the owners don’t even have a parking space, good luck with that.
        Each and every condo corporation is different. The hiearchy in Ontario is the Human Rights Act, Condominium Act, Declaration, By-laws, then the rules and policies. Giving free electricity to one resident over others would require, at the least a new by-law.
        As I said earlier, this is a complicated issue, and one that armchair critics are not qualified to chime in on. Sorry, but that is the harsh reality in community living today, whether a condo or a gated community in Florida. There are rules, and they must be followed by ALL.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        how about I run an extension cord across the driveway and plug my Volt into your receptacle and you can pay for my driving to work.

        I gather that you have been too busy typing your rants to actually bother to read the article.

        **All** of the electrical in that complex is shared. If you use your electricity to watch Oprah, everyone is paying for it. If you use it to watch DVD’s through a 1500-watt home theater system, everyone is paying for it. If you have a refrigerator, everyone is paying for it. Are you seeing a pattern here?

        The complex is already providing outlets in the garage. There seems to have been no objection whatsoever to the concept of using the complex’s electricity in order to put electrical power into a car.

        Regardless, this particular resident offered to pay to charge up his car, unlike his neighbors who pay no premium to keep their engine blocks heated. So to the extent there was a financial issue, the resident offered to mitigate that issue.

        The problem is with attitudes such as yours. People with your mindset are deliberately obstructionist. Instead of trying to find a solution, you’d prefer to invent a problem.

        An aspect of my professional work involves dealing with regulations and contracts. If I have learned anything, it’s that many laws and contractual terms are far from black and white. Someone who has a chip on his shoulders will invariably find far more excuses to be inflexible than would someone else who is solution-driven. I pretty much know which category better describes you.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      It’s that sort of paranoid thinking that creates havoc at general meetings. Since the case law emanating from the 1998 Condo Act changes (that came into effect in 2001 – go figure!), Board are finding out the hard way that the old days of it being a country club are over. From annual hard audits to the Performance Audits updated every 3 years (engineering), there is no wiggle room anymore. Ontario’s Courts are filling up with directors who tried to bend or ignore rules to suit themselves.
      It’s a new world, boys and girls. On the other hand, angry, ill-informed owners make it impossible to govern many of these buildings. I know of one that is under a Court-ordered ‘Administrator’ because the Board was so badly harassed that they all resigned.
      Yep, these little communities are microcosm of the me-me-me attitude that pervades our society from top to bottom.

      • 0 avatar
        Pete K

        You’re not winning any friends here…this case is pretty cut and dry. It is well documented and easy to determine how much electricity his Volt is consuming and this can be done without a $3k meter. He wouldn’t even use $3k in electricity over the course of 4-5 years…

        He’s willing to pay for the electricity his Volt uses…this should be resolved quite easily…

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    That’s the sort of abuse I’ve had to put up with for the past two years. If you only knew the crap people have to put up with for what is essentially a volunteer position to run something that is as sophisticated as a medium sized business.

  • avatar
    nrcote

    I still own a condo apartment in Ottawa (Ontario, Canada). Three high rise towers, about 170 apartments per tower, for a total of over 500 apartments. No separate meters whatsoever. The condo fee includes everything, electricity, heating, water, maintenance, management, snow removal (this is Canada), etc. Thus, people using air conditioners in the summer don’t pay anything over and above the condo fee. My tenant doesn’t have an air conditioner. But I’m pretty sure the condo board would go crazy if she asked to plug in an hybrid in the underground garage.

    I’m wondering where Mr. Nemat lives.

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      A friend of mine manages an older condo building in Toronto that has shared electricity as part of their condo fees (I would NEVER buy in a building that allowed this!) A few years ago, they installed a state of the art digital security system with about 40 cameras. To their shock, they discovered people were actually taking in friends and neigbhor’s laundry! Now, security has to play laundry police. The electricity for the building has actually dropped substantially since they started doing this.
      With many buildings facing fee increases of 30-40% (thanks in no small part to the HST), utilities is the one area where Boards can find savings.
      How about running a gas fireplace in the summer, with the central a/c turned on and a window open because you’re a smoker? A friend of mine does this at his condo – because he doesn’t ‘pay’ for the utilities.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Another reason to promote higher fuel taxes. If this is not an example of what happens when energy use is considered “free”…in fact this is worse, because the association has to pay the bill, so doesn’t that mean fees eventually go up? Now people will start using more because even if they cut back, their neighbor is “getting” their free share of what the original person saved. This mentality actually drives everybody to use more and more, not less. Human selfishness at its finest.

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    My apartment manager has been wonderfully accommodating of my new Volt, switching my parking space to one near an outlet and charging me a flat monthly fee for juice.

    I’m looking to buy a place in the next year or so and avoidance of this situation will be one of the first things I want to verify in the event that I get a condo with an underground space.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I rent a house, and plug in in its garage, and I get billed directly for all utilities. When I end up buying, I’ll likely have a permanent install done for a charger.

    No HOAs, neither!

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Buhhaha. That’s a fail, on so many levels.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    the west is green! OAM

  • avatar
    carbiz

    Okay, as usual (this is the internet), lots of speculation, very few facts.
    First off, it is ironic that in major urban areas (like Toronto where more than 50% live in condos or apartment buildings), purchasing a Volt or Leaf won’t be in the cards for some time. It will probably take municipal regulations to force developers to begin at least ‘roughing in’ provisions for recharging stations. Green roofs had to be legislated and even then many developers got exemptions.
    BTW, Ontario gets way more than half its electricity from either nuclear or hydro, so coal and natural gas really don’t factor in, especially at 3 a.m. when these vehicles would likely be charging.
    As a condo Property Manager, I can say that pro-active Boards are looking into charging stations, but even if the resident owns the parking space, they do not own the common areas leading up to it. Any installation of power lines, conduit, meters, etc. has legal and engineering challenges – who is going to pay for all of that, plus make the necessary changes to the condo documents?
    It’s not as simple as someone offering to pay $1 a day. Boards cannot be arbitrary. They must follow the process. It will happen. But like everything, it will be slow.
    For now, prospective purchasers of electric vehicles and scooters (which are becoming quite the nuisance in downtown Toronto!) are going to have to be content with single family dwellings.

    • 0 avatar
      tparkit

      Carbiz, your posts have been very informative!

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Agreed, you sound like my father. I listen to the things he tells me as he is on the condo board in his place in Florida. And you are right, there is a process for everything. The problem is that when I retire, I don’t want “process” anymore. But I know that and realize I will go from home ownership to: grave, old age home, or the front seat of my Fury with the engine running. So I will avoid all this process. And being on the board carries it’s own pitfalls. Fellow condo owners always are asking for a favor in breaking the rules…

  • avatar
    Japanese Buick

    Thanks for the posts, carbiz. People including me may not agree with what you’re saying but what rocks about TTAC is that so many perspectives are represented.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    I think they just don’t want to set a precedent where it’s OK to charge an EV without some kind of metering in place since presumably someday there’ll be much longer range EVs that require a lot more power to charge, and once everyone is trying to charge their EVs at night those cheap nighttime rates are going to disappear. I could see it becoming a problem if everyone had 100kW packs jacked into the grid without some kinda metering in place.

    Maybe he should take this opportunity to put in a metered fast charger or something since otherwise he now owns what is essentially a hybrid with mediocre MPG ratings.

    • 0 avatar
      Herm

      if people had 100kWh packs (400 miles range) they would still drive an average of 40 miles a day and consume about $1.10 of electricity.. it does add up and they should pay for it. The advantage of using a 120V socket is that it will take about 8 hours to recharge that pack.. you literally cant steal much more electricity than $400 a year or so.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Not necessarily. What if in 2020, I drive a plug-in delivery van that consume 3x Volt’s energy per mile and runs 400 miles per day?

        Oh, since the charging technology improved, I can fully charge my van in 1 minute. I might as well let my buddies come in to charge their vans at my stall when the condo manager is off at lunch. Now the condo board has to invest in an expensive security system, if they don’t realize that the only fool-proof way is to use a meter for every stall.

  • avatar
    lw

    Just strap a Honda generator to the roof of the Volt and it can charge itself. Lol. Silly electric cars. Just a fad folks… Just a fad…

    The condo association should put a proposal up for vote to convert a percentage of the garage’s parking spots to EV spots with special breakers, meters and plugs. To do it and meet code requirements will cost a small fortune and it will get voted down. Problem solved.

    Call me when an electric car costs less to buy, less to drive, is quicker to refuel and cheaper to maintain compared to a gas engine.

    Gas engines are awesome and with every mile I produce more tree food (CO2)! Stated another way, people that want to reduce CO2 emmisions hate trees and get jollies by starving them…

    Just saying….

    • 0 avatar
      carbiz

      Some condo Boards are looking into this, but if the parking spaces are deeded (owned) then this is impossible. Even if the Corporation could force owners to sell their parking spaces (as they can with disabled parking, since the Human Rights Act trumps all in Ontario), the legal costs and real estate expenses would be prohibitive. Parking spaces in downtown Toronto can flip for $25k to $40k. If the Board forced 40 owners to sell their parking spaces and then exchange with owners of electric vehicles (and I cannot begin to imagine the legalities of this!), the taxes and fees would have to be borne by someone! Or do you imagine people will just happily move their parking space to make way?
      It would be cheaper to amass a dozen parking spaces together and equip them all with meters, but that can only be accomplished in new buildings before parking is assigned.
      Believe me, I’d buy a Volt tomorrow if I had a place to plug it in.
      To the naysayers who live in a shanty in Kentucky and sit on the front porch with their shotgun (joking), condo living is becoming the norm in most major cities. In Toronto, living anywhere near downtown will cost a million bucks and up for a single family dwelling, yet 400 sq ft condos go for $250k. For many, any hope of home ownership in a large urban area will only involve condos in the future. But with all the regulations and rules, condo living is no longer the ‘affordable’ lifestyle it was 30 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      People used to make similar statements with computers. Now they are pretty much as cheap as you want to go.

      It will not be long before electric cars are less expensive than a gas vehicle. Battery tech is advancing everyday.

      In Dec of 2005 when I bought my first digital camera, I bought some fairly expensive high-capacity AA rechargeable batteries. Four of them cost me $55. Dec of 2011, I bought from the same manufacturer 8 AA rechargeables with an even higher capacity for 16 dollars…. And they charge in less than half the time too.

      How about you call us when you get a clue?

  • avatar
    darex

    I don’t have too much sympathy for the guy. Surely it it must have crossed his mind how the Condo Association might feel about his plugging-in in the garage BEFORE he bought a Volt. If not, or if he thought he could sneak it in without anyone noticing what he was doing, well, he ought to have!

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Funny. Condo association pays all electricity? All of it? There’s an invitation for somebody to use more!

    Toll roads are a good example of how pay-for-use encourages usage to go down. I know people who won’t go anywhere near the toll roads here. Those roads are usually the least congested (and thererore safer) route. Our tolls work out to 10-15 cents per mile and that seems to be enough to cut down on usage.

    As to comments above about HOA and condo boards. I have some experience in this area. Yes, some of them are risk-averse. Sometimes for good reason. Others are simply bound by their bylaws. They are compelled by the bylaws to uphold the same bylaws. And the HOA is often unable to get a quorum of homeowners to agree to a change in their bylaws. So they’re stuck in a bad situation.

    Of course, the HOAs you always hear about are those controlled by busy-bodies who don’t know how to mind their own p’s and q’s.

    Interestingly enough, my community’s biggest complaint (after the barking dog complaints) is that the HOA board is not tough enough. They think we’re too easy!

    We are not a condo board; so we don’t have common parking with carports. But I must say I don’t know how we would handle it if people wanted to plug in their electric cars overnight. There would definitely be a concern about the safety with exposed electrical cords and the cost of electricity, particularly with the summer rains and added risk during lightning storms or other bad weather.

    I suppose my community could be confronted with a similar question one day…say when neighbors with cluttered garages and no room for a car want to run an extension cord across their driveway or lawn to charge their car parked in the street.

    We’ll deal with it when it happens, I suppose…

  • avatar
    wsn

    1) If you can afford a $41.5k car, you might as well buy a single house. Houses are not expensive in Ottawa, even ones close to the city core.

    2) Yes, he did offer to pay for the electricity. But the condo board did offer him to install a metered plug @ $3000. It’s him that chose not to go ahead.

    3) If a charging cable costs $2000 for a Telsa, I don’t see anything wrong with a $3000 meter. After all, there is extra manpower and administration required.

  • avatar
    redav

    A fundamental problem with the condo’s position is dictating what a utility can be used for. It is similar to saying you can use electricity for a TV and vacuum cleaner but not a computer or blender. Consider: he could charge a super capacitor in his unit and then used that to charge the car. Or, what if he owned a Segway that he kept and stored in his unit? Their policy of what they allow the utility to be used for is arbitrary and too impractical to enforce.

    A second problem of their position is that they don’t pool refueling costs for other cars. Well, why not just change the policy? They aren’t paying the bill–the residents are. If they vote to permit it (and in doing so give themselves the ability to benefit form it as well), then let them.

    $3k for a meter is excessive. I had a new, smart meter installed on my house last year. It costs a few hundred dollars. Also, a Kill-a-Watt does the exact same thing, and it costs $25. And if a meter does get installed, what’s to keep someone else from using it when he’s away? Will the outlet be locked so no one can charge their cars on his dime?

    They permit block heaters, but I wonder how they can tell the difference between those and a battery. Can you plug in your Prius if the cord comes out from under the bumper, but not if it attaches to the side? If so, what if he installed a ‘block heater’ (wink, wink) for the Volt’s gas generator?

    The best solution may be to simply use a Kill-a-Watt to measure the juice the Volt consumes, average it, and then adjust his lease accordingly. Then, if anyone else buys an electric car, they can do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      “The best solution may be to simply use a Kill-a-Watt to measure the juice the Volt consumes, average it, and then adjust his lease accordingly. Then, if anyone else buys an electric car, they can do the same.”

      The condo board did exactly that by offering to install a meter (at a charge of course). He refused it. So there is no deal.


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