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» Posted September 18, 2018News

On September 13, 2018, Governor Brown issued two executive orders designed to encourage the use of zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions created by gas-using vehicles. The most recent order calls for the use of five million ZEVs in California by 2030, and the installation of 250,000 ZEV charging stations by 2025 to support the needs of ZEV drivers. These are rather lofty goals considering there are under 400,000 ZEVs in California now. Along with the increase of ZEVs, at-home charging stations will be vital due to the amount of time it takes to fully charge certain electric vehicles. Charging overnight is ideal because electricity prices are lower for many people during the off-peak hours. Senate Bill 1016 was developed with these goals and concerns in mind.

SB 1016 specifically addresses the challenges that residents of multi-family dwellings encounter when trying to charge their vehicles. The installation of charging stations can be cost prohibitive. Frequently, the common area must be altered to install the necessary infrastructure. The legislative history for this bill indicates that in single-family homes the average cost of installation is $1,500. In contrast, the average cost for multi-unit settings is $5,400.

Current law already prohibits a homeowners association from unreasonably hindering the residents’ ability to install a charging station. This bill was intended to remove a remaining hurdle by prohibiting the homeowners association from restricting the resident from installing the accompanying meter infrastructure. The bill makes the following changes:

  • The law, as adopted in 2011, requires the homeowners to procure a $1 million liability policy before installing a charging station. While the bill still requires that the homeowner obtaining liability insurance, there are now no coverage amounts specified. However, the homeowners association can still require an additional insured endorsement and certificate be provided within fourteen days of approval of the charging station. 
  • The insurance requirements no longer apply to successor owners of the property or charging station. However, the law now provides that successive owners are responsible for the cost of damage resulting from installation, maintenance or replacement of the meter, as well as restoration of the area after removal. The owner is required to disclose these obligations to prospective buyers. 
  • The homeowners association may not unreasonably restrict or prevent the installation of an “EV-dedicated TOU meter.” This term means an electric meter supplied and installed by an electric utility that is separate from, and in addition to, any other electric meter and is devoted exclusively to the charging of electric vehicles, and that tracks the time of use (TOU) when charging occurs. It also includes any wiring or conduit necessary to connect the electric meter to the charging station, regardless of whether it is supplied or installed by an electric utility. 
  • Reasonable restrictions are still allowed. These include restrictions based upon space, aesthetics, structural integrity and equal access to these services for all homeowners, but the homeowners association shall attempt to find a reasonable way to accommodate the installation request, unless the homeowners association would need to incur an expense. 
  • The application for installation of a charging station needs to be processed in the same manner as an architectural application. If a denial of the application is not made with 60 days of receipt, the application is deemed approved.

The law now provides that the homeowners association or owners may install an EV-dedicated TOU meter in the common area for the use of all members of the homeowners association and, in that case, the homeowners association shall develop appropriate terms of use for the EV-dedicated TOU meter. In light of the fact that owners may now install charging stations in the common area, homeowners associations may want to consider being proactive and installing the stations first.  As demand for electric vehicles increases, the need for charging stations will also increase. Before being faced with an individual’s plan for charging stations in the common area, board members and managers might benefit from researching and implementing a well thought-out plan designed to benefit the community as a whole, rather than the first in line.