After extensive review and consultation in 2017, the City of Port Coquitlam changed its Zoning Bylaw in order to promote and accommodate the increased use of electric vehicles (EVs).
The changes requiring basic EV charging infrastructure in the parking areas of all new buildings with residential dwellings for which building permits are applied on July 23, 2018 or later, including:
- single-family homes and duplexes
- townhouses and rowhouses
- apartment buildings
- coach houses
- residential components of mixed-use buildings
Supporting EVs: A cleaner transportation choice
Compared to gas vehicles, EVs emit 98% less greenhouse gases and are 1/5th the cost to fuel.
Although EV sales continue to grow, access to charging infrastructure has been a barrier for EV adoption. Installing basic electrical equipment for EV charging (“roughing-in”) is a relatively easy way to help ensure residents buying new homes can access EV charging.
Benefits of roughing in:
- Roughing-in EV charging infrastructure during construction can dramatically reduce the cost and building alteration required to install charging stations.
- Provides an amenity increasingly desired by home buyers
Vancouver, North Vancouver City and Richmond have already adopted similar EV regulations, and several other cities are exploring options.
Why is the City requiring roughed-in EV infrastructure in new residential buildings?
Electric vehicles are a low carbon mode of transportation with growing popularity in BC. However, access to charging at home has been a barrier to adoption. Roughing-in basic EV charging infrastructure is a relatively low-cost way to ensure that residents buying new homes will be able to install EV charging stations.
What does roughing-in for Level 2 EV charging entail?
- Roughing-in requires the installation of 208V or 240V breakers on a building’s (or unit’s) electrical panel, with raceway running to outlet boxes for one parking space per residential dwelling unit.
- In buildings with common parking areas, an additional utility meter, disconnect and separate electrical panels are required for EV charging, although breakers, raceway, and outlet boxes may be shared between up to eight parking spaces.
- In all cases, outlets must be within three metres of associated parking spaces, and building power supply must be adequate for all EV charging, and in addition to other building electrical loads.
- Electrical equipment for EV charging should be labelled ‘EV only’.
Developers may benefit from consulting with manufacturers and installers of EV charging stations to determine optimum infrastructure configurations, especially in buildings with common areas involving shared electrical equipment. Click here for a list of suppliers and installers.
How much power is required?
In buildings without common parking areas:
- For each parking space, equipment able to deliver 32 amps of power is strongly recommended.
- A breaker for EV charging may be shared with another load (e.g. dryer), provided that control equipment is installed to prevent simultaneous operation of EV charging equipment and the other load.
In buildings with common parking areas:
- Where a breaker and raceway is shared by up to 4 parking spaces, equipment must be sized to deliver a minimum of 32 amps continuously to the group.
- Where a breaker and raceway is shared by 5 or more parking spaces, equipment must be sized to deliver a minimum average of 6 amps continuously per space within the group (e.g. outlet(s) serving 8 parking spaces would require equipment able to supply 48 amps of electricity).
In some cases, transformer upsizing may be required to meet additional power requirements. Contact BC Hydro for more information on supplying larger transformers to accommodate EV charging.
Do I have to wire a circuit?
Raceway must be installed from the electrical panel with EV breakers to the associated outlet boxes. Wiring run to the outlets is recommended, but not required. Acceptable raceway types include conduit, open cable trays, or cable.
If conduit is used, pull strings for later wiring are strongly recommended. Receptacles are not required in the outlet boxes.
What kind of disconnect is required for buildings with common parking areas?
Any code-compliant disconnect(s) may be installed before or behind the EV-specific utility meter, provided that all EV loads are able to be disconnected independently from other building loads. A main breaker on EV-specific electrical panel(s) is sufficient to meet this requirement.
How will a building strata manage EV charging?
In order to ensure fair use of infrastructure, it is strongly recommended that initial strata bylaws include guidance regarding EV charging. Details may vary depending on a building’s specific infrastructure configuration and parking ownership model. Important topics to address include regulation of access to and payment for installation, warranty, maintenance, and consumption of power for EV charging.
It may be beneficial to establish agreements with EV charging companies to facilitate installation of charging stations by strata organizations. For a list of local EV charging suppliers, click here.
Additional info for stratas:
- Plug-in BC has produced strata bylaw templates for EV charging that may be helpful.
- Additionally, BC Hydro has developed guidance material for drafting strata bylaws relating to pre-installed EV infrastructure – see Appendix F of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure in Shared Parking Areas.
As the homeowner in a roughed-in building, what will I need to charge an EV?
EV charging will require connection to the outlet of an EV charging station, and, if not completed at construction, wiring of the station to the breaker via the installed raceway.
In buildings with common parking areas, you will need to ensure you have permission from the Strata to connect a station. If your building’s Strata bylaws do not include provisions for EV charging, this will need to be addressed (see ‘How will a building strata manage EV charging?’). You will also want to ensure a station attached to a shared outlet does not prevent the other parking spaces from accessing power (e.g. by using a station that can share electrical loads).
Guidelines for EV Charging Rough-ins
The Port Coquitlam Electric Vehicle Rough-in Guidelines define specifications for infrastructure in new buildings with residential dwellings, including required ampacity, acceptable equipment types and sample configurations. Note that these guidelines relate only to the City’s Zoning Bylaw and in no way supersede requirements under provincial or federal regulation.
The BC Hydro Resources to Support Implementation & Charging Infrastructure Requirements outlines electric vehicle charging equipment types and configurations, relevant provincial regulations, and considerations for strata bylaw development relating to EV charging.
EVs: Why Take Action Now?
- Since 2011, annual sales of EVs in B.C. have increased an average of 92% year-over-year, and lower mainland sales are projected to represent 24 to 27% of vehicles by 2030.
- One-third of Canadians surveyed in 2015 expressed an interest in buying an EV, but uptake is limited by a lack of charging infrastructure.
- Port Coquitlam has nine Level 2 public EV charging locations (see www.plugshare.com). Approximately 80-90% of electric vehicle charging is expected to be done at home – a potential challenge for residents in condominiums and rental units.
- Long-range and mass-market EVs are now available, and pricing is expected to be on par with combustion engine vehicles by 2022-2024.
- Up to $11,000 in incentives are available toward the purchase of an EV in BC. Visit Plug In BC for more details.
- Costs vary by building, but roughing in EV charging infrastructure during construction can be 5 times less than retrofitting an existing building.
- The City has identified climate change as a threat to future prosperity and stability. Promoting EV charging is a strategic direction in the City’s Environmental Strategic Plan, a recommendation of the Corporate & Community Climate Action Plan, and a guideline in the Official Community Plan’s Environmental Conservation designation.
- Switching to EVs, which emit 80% less over their life cycle, is one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions and improve air quality in our community.
- The installation of EV charging infrastructure is a strategic direction in the City’s Environmental Strategic Plan, a recommendation of the Corporate & Community Climate Action Plan, and a guideline in the Official Community Plan’s Environmental Conservation designation.
- An estimated 40% of vehicles in Canada will need to be electric by 2040 to meet provincial and national greenhouse gas targets.