Canadian Condo Won't Let Chevrolet Volt Owner Charge His Car

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
canadian condo won t let chevrolet volt owner charge his car

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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  • Wsn Wsn on Jan 30, 2012

    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.

  • Redav Redav on Jan 30, 2012

    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.

    • Wsn Wsn on Jan 30, 2012

      "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.

  • Dartman It was all a scam just to gin up some free publicity. It worked. Tassos go back to sleep; no ones on your lawn. Real ‘murricans prefer hot dogs to gyros.
  • ToolGuy I plan to install a sink in the crawl space soon. After that I plan to put washer and dryer hookups on my roof.
  • ToolGuy "That power team adds an electric supercharger"YES!
  • Cardave5150 UAW is acting all butt-hurt that their employers didn't "share the wealth" when they had massive profits. They conveniently forget that they have a CONTRACT with their employers, which was negotiated in good faith, and which the Remaining 3 are honoring, paying them exactly what they negotiated last time.
  • Kwik_Shift That's a shame.