The legislation governing strata properties in New South Wales mandates that any modifications to common property, including alterations to electrical services and infrastructure, must adhere to specific steps outlined in Section 108 of the Strata Schemes Management Act (SSMA 2015).
Additionally, individuals must refer to the Strata Schemes Management Amendment (Sustainability Infrastructure) Bill 2020 for guidance. This bill categorizes the installation of EV charging infrastructure as a sustainability infrastructure upgrade, which replaces the previously required special resolution under Section 108 of the SSMA 2015.
Voting requirements for such upgrades dictate that "less than 50% are against the resolution," and owners corporations must maintain a 10-year capital works fund (CWF) that budgets for capital works.
To simplify the process, we have included example motions and by-laws under Step 5 to assist your strata legal representative in guiding you through the process.
To connect any EV charging equipment, owners are required to seek approval from the owners corporation. This can be done by contacting the Secretary of the strata committee, strata manager, or building manager. If your building is already equipped for EV charging, you can follow the process outlined by the strata committee to connect your EV supply equipment to the building's charging infrastructure.
However, if your building is not yet EV-ready, there are a few steps you should take.
First, familiarize yourself with the building renovation process, as installing EV charging infrastructure usually involves making changes to common property. You can refer to the legislative information provided above for guidance.
Next, it's important to understand the capital works fund plan and determine whether there is a designated budget for EV charging infrastructure.
Finally, use the renovation process steps required in your building to make an application. The Transport for NSW's "EV charging request form" may be able to assist you with this process.
Tenants are required to obtain the approval of their landlord, who can then act on their behalf with the owners corporation.
According to NSW legislation, tenants have limited authority to make changes to common property and must therefore go through the property owner.
To explore the possibility of having EV charging installed, tenants should contact their agent, who can either connect them with the property owner or pass on their request for investigation.
Owners Corporation responsibilities
The owners corporation bears the responsibility of overseeing all aspects of the building, including budgetary decisions.
To manage these duties, the owners corporation must establish a strata committee comprised of owners or owner nominees. Additionally, the owners corporation may delegate some of its responsibilities to a strata manager or building manager.
The owners corporation is also responsible for selecting the appropriate EV charging option that suits the building and receives applications from owners for EV charging installation. They facilitate the installation and payment of the necessary infrastructure and may help to develop and implement an EV charging strategy, as well as assist with the connection of EV supply equipment.
In most cases, the cost of the EV supply equipment falls to the owner or tenant.
5 steps to EV readiness
If an owners corporation (or the strata committee acting on its behalf) intends to prepare a building for electric vehicle (EV) charging, they should take into account five crucial steps.
STEP 1 - SURVEY Conducting a survey among residents is recommended to determine their attitudes towards and requirements for EV charging. The survey findings can help in deciding the optimal approach, such as the timing and extent of necessary infrastructure. Check out "Transport for NSW's" resident survey template to help you get started.
STEP 2 - ENERGY ASSESSMENT Before considering installing EV charging infrastructure to your apartment building, an energy assessment is usually required to best understand the impacts that the new EV charging system could have on your existing electrical system. Key elements to consider for an energy system audit include: - existing mains circuit breaker sizes - existing mains cabling sizes - historical peak energy loads - energy usage patterns over time - energy efficient actions to reduce load and create extra capacity (such as LED lighting upgrades) - calculating spare electrical capacity for a new EV charger system CHARGEX can provide you with the required energy audit to help you choose the right course of action for upgrading your building with EV charging infrastructure.
STEP 3 - APPROACH There are several ways to incorporate EV charging to your building, some of which require planning and thought to execute properly.
Can be useful for small blocks under 5-10 units. Involves connecting a "level 1" OR " level 2" charger straight to common area power or to individual lot meters, with no EV management system, however not recommended if all residents indent on charging at the same time. Suitable for 1 or 2 residents to charge at a time.
This approach is best when there are limited car spaces on the common property lot. EV charging stations are limited to a few faster chargers located in visitor parking spaces, converted to EV charging spaces. This solution allows for a much simpler installation, however, creates other issues, such as the fair distribution of charging allocation for residents.
This method is ideal for large buildings or situations with high demand, where EV charging at every car space is desired to add value to the building. However, it may come with a significant upfront cost, so it is essential to ensure that the owners corporation has adequate funds to cover the expenses. When implemented in new buildings, the installation of whole-of-building infrastructure is usually more cost-effective than retrofits. (Contact Chargex to obtain in depth EV charging infrastructure pricing.) Before proceeding with the installation, the strata committee must obtain approval from the owners corporation. The comprehensive "EV charging backbone" is then installed, and individual approval is required from the owners to connect additional equipment to this shared infrastructure. The relevant owner or tenant usually covers the costs of final-circuit EV supply equipment and connection. This approach provides level 2 charging to all resident car spaces, as well as managed load control, and typically has comprehensive billing and cost recovery outsourced (to EV charging companies, like Chargex). A suitable "comprehensive EV charging backbone" includes: - a high-capacity feed from the main switchboard - cable trays or busways to facilitate cabling to the owner's car space - load control installation - demand management system - detailed usage charging capability, such as billing services. Typically, an EV charging operator installs and maintains the infrastructure (Like CHARGEX).
STEP 4 - PAYMENT OPTIONS There are several ways in which to manage the payments of EV charging infrastructure:
Flat fee - The strata committee decides to pay EV charging costs as whole via an agreed rate per month. - Monthly EV charging fees are paid out of strata funds
Metered Rate - Same as flat fee in regards to cost being paid by the owners corporation. - kWh calculated per month for accurate billing to be paid by strata funds.
Existing meters - Utilize existing meters (for small applications) and strata funds pay for the increase in common area power usage.
Outsourced or 'turnkey'
- Provided by EV operators for an ongoing subscription fee - Suitable for all applications - Simplest solution for owners corporation as it allows for individual EV owners to pay for their own charging costs.
Chargex provides a 'turnkey' solution to apartment charging and billing management. Providing owners corporations with easy to use billing management, so that the owners corporation doesn't pay for additional electricity usage and EV owners pay for their own electricity usage. Contact us to find out more.
STEP 5 - APPROVAL PROCESS
Once the strata committee has decided to move forward with installing EV charging infrastructure, its time to notify your strata manager and EV service provider to start the process. Below are key links to general information, templates and examples of motion and by-law documentation to help you understand the approval process (From Transport for NSW):
More detailed documentation:
For help navigating the process of upgrading your building with EV charging infrastructure, contact Chargex.
All information in this post is from Transport for NSW and has been interpreted for this article only.