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Question

What are the Best Practices for Deploying and Managing Multi-unit Dwelling Charging?

I am hoping to gather some insight into potential strategies and best practices a utility could take to better enable Electric Vehicle owners to charge within multi-unit dwellings. I am looking for recomended ways to deploy infrastructure though different incentives structure (EV owner or building manager). I am also wanting to learn more about the approaches to understanding the EV owner charging behaviour, ways to manage that load and billing. What has this community heard of, or recommends for effective multi-unit dwelling EV programs by an electric utility?

Answers

Hi Scott,

I like your focus on multi-unit dwellings (MUDs). In my opinion, that should be any utility's primary focus for EV charging infrastructure (#2 single family residential, #3 workplace). The most difficult problem for the utility is outreach and recruitment of MUDs. You run into problems with the home owners association (HOA or equivalent), loss of parking spaces due to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), equity over who gets to charge where. For those and many other reasons, utilities have had a devil of a time getting MUDs to participate in charging infrastructure programs even when the utility (or ratepayer) pays most of the upfront cost.

Keeping operating costs low is also key, which means chosing a low-cost networking method. The resources on MUD programs and deployment are many. I can point you in the direction of a few. 

Scott Lepold's picture
Scott Lepold on Nov 11, 2019 8:07 pm GMT

Hi Charles,

Thanks for your insight. Based on your comments around limited parking spaces and cost, would you suggest an appropriate approach in the current market would be to identify a common area within the MUD premises where there are a couple EVSEs available for those who own an EV - more of a communal approach? They could either pay at the station or pay the building manager $x.xx/ month to use? 

Charles Botsford's picture
Charles Botsford on Nov 13, 2019 8:35 pm GMT

Hi Scott,

The SEPA reference below is a good one. Managed charging can allow for a reduced electrical service addition for MUD EVs, as well as keep the networking costs low. It also allows inclusion into utility programs.

A low tech and very effective way to keep network cost low is to use non-networked chargers. Limit the chargers to 16A (3.6kW) and charge tenants $40/month for use of that space. A 16A L2 charger won't satisfy extreme commuters, but oh well. They can top off their electrons at work or at an EVgo station. This type of charging will give the driver more than 100 miles of recharge overnight.

The common area model doesn't scale very well. With too many EV drivers, the common area becomes a battleground. For a tryout program, it's not a terrible idea.

Scott Lepold's picture
Scott Lepold on Nov 14, 2019 4:04 pm GMT

Thanks, Charles. That makes sense. I can see that being an approach moving forward as EV adoption increases and where majority of tenants will require a charge capable parking spot. 

Managing the load of EV chargers behind the meter is typically known as adaptive load management and can be under the umbrella of building load management. There are a number of ways to manage these charging loads directly through the software or hardware of the EVSE or can be integrated into building load management programs. I'd suggest reading, A Comprehensive Guide to EV Managed Charging by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, for a complete list of options: 

 

Scott Lepold's picture
Scott Lepold on Nov 12, 2019 3:03 pm GMT

Thanks for sharing the report, Erika. I look forward to reading this. I may circle back with questions or some additional thoughts.

Hi Scott,

I work with an EV charging service provider called EVmatch. We have a few pilots with utilities right now attempting to address your question. In Vermont, we're working with Burlington Electric and Green Mountain Power to deploy affordable chargers at multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) and provide management software for the building manager or owner. With our software, managers set pricing and availability so EV drivers can reserve a booking and pay for a charging session in advance. Our scheduling feature makes it easy for drivers to plan their charging routine without playing the availability guessing game. We have a specific MUD feature called SubNet that allows the manager to set different charging groups, such as Tenants or Guests. The manager can set differentiated pricing and availability access for each group. For example, he may give Tenants access to the charger 24/7 at $1/hour while giving access to the General Public only on the weekend at a price of $2/hour. Our software recognizes users based on their group and only allows drivers with a reservation to access the charger (bookings can be made on the spot if a driver pulls up and wants to charge right away, as long as someone else hasn't made a reservation). 

While there are many solutions for this on the market right now, ours is significantly cheaper (3-10x cheaper) and allows the owner a means to earn money for putting up the capital to install a charger(s).

The utilities we're working with are generally offering an incentive ($500 or $1,000) per charger to encourage MUDs to install them. Sometimes these incentives are contingent on the manager opening the chargers up for public use during business hours.

In general, we've received a lot of interest from tenants who own EVs, but they're receiving pushback from their HOA or condo association boards who are afraid of paying too much in electricity with no way to charge EV drivers for what they use. Our software calculates electricity use so the driver pays the HOA or whoever owns the charger and pays the electricity bill (called hosts in our case). In addition, hosts can add a per hour or per kWh markup fee on top of electricity. Payments are all handled through our secure payment processing system (we use Stripe) so EV drivers don't have to worry about losing RFID cards or tapping their credit card.

Hope that helped!

I'm happy to jump on the phone if you're interested in our charger management software as well. Just email me at william@evmatch.com

Charles Botsford's picture
Charles Botsford on Nov 15, 2019 6:12 pm GMT

Hi William,

Do you have a per port annual fee? What is your cost for services?

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