Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

November 10, 2022

On Father’s Day 2022, I laid a bet with my (77 years) old man – that within 3 to 5 years sales of electric vehicles in Australia would overtake sales of fossil-fuelled vehicles.

As with many Baby Boomers, Dad simply could not believe that all of us Gen X, Y, Z, and I types, would be gullible, or stupid enough to buy cars with uselessly short-range and expensive, incendiary batteries. My father is a very smart and capable chap, but rather than spending a few hours deconstructing the internet myths, legends, and memes that have inculcated his views, I did the easy thing and laid a bet instead.

I am very confident I will win that bet – for the simple reason that I am getting so many enquiries about EV charging stations, there must already be an entire fleet of EV’s on its way!

With the assistance of my trusty research clerk, I sat down and started to get up to speed. The more I read the more I could see that our legislation in Queensland is pretty good to deal with the issues, but that there would be some very significant traps. I also recognised that one size definitely does not fit all.

There are issues of physical and legal access, balancing of lot owners’ rights, allocation of scarce or constrained resources, fire, and other safety issues, just to name a few.

So, one article simply cannot do this topic justice, or from my perspective, arm you with the minimum information necessary to enable you to make good decisions, about the issue (or for you to help others to make those decisions).
Instead, what I have done is to draft a series of articles, to cover the topic, in a (hopefully) pithy and useful way.

In this article I cover ‘know thyself’ – what any self-respecting Body Corporate should know, before a lot owner asks if they can install an EV charging station, or some nice young fella offers to install one for the Body Corporate on common property as a ‘service for lot owners’.

Next will be ‘know your product’ – what are EV charging stations, how do they work, what do they need and are there any standards for them? That way, when the time comes you can tell the sheep from the goats.

After that I’ll talk about being a boy scout. That is, ‘be prepared’ – rather than being a reactive, hot mess, bodies corporate and their committees can work out answers to the tough questions, before they are asked! Simple and powerful measures can then be taken to ensure things such as owner equity and fairness in the allocation of resources (as opposed to, for example, ‘first in best dressed’).

The fourth installment will be ‘you want what?’ – that is, we take a look at a typical lot owner’s request for permission to install an EV charging station, what you can expect to see, what you might see and what you should ask to see.

Finally, we will have a look at ‘conditions and compliance’ – the sorts of things that any approval should, or must, include and why. For example, insurance, maintenance, cost, fire safety and the like.

What then, should a body corporate know about itself, before (and well and truly before) a lot owners comes pounding on the door asking to install a charging point for their Mercedes Benz EQ?
‘Know Thyself’ Checklist

  • Survey Plan – every registered survey plan, that describes any part of the scheme land, including all lots and common property.
  • Currently recorded CMS – that is, the one that is currently recorded in the Freehold Land Register, and not the copy that’s sitting in your draw. It’s the recorded one that counts.
  • Utility Infrastructure Diagram – not the dodgy rubbish one in the currently recorded CMS that has been rescanned or photocopied to within an inch of its life. No, I mean the first clear copy that you have, which is usually in an older CMS.
  • Exclusive Use Plans – ditto
  • Utility Easements – now this is real utility easements, to or from Energex and such, and not the table of statutory easements in the CMS. These sorts of easement are rare, but if you have one affecting your scheme, then make sure you have a full copy (i.e. survey plan describing the easement, Form 9 and terms). If you have a pad mount transformer in your scheme, then you may have one of these easements.
  • Original Building Plans – hang you head in shame if you don’t have these (and yes, I include 30-year-old plus buildings in this category as well!). The plans should include wiring diagrams. If you have a young Body Corporate and the developer refuses to cough the plans up, come and see me; I’ll prosecute them for you, for breaching the Act.
  • Development Approvals including Approved Plans – ditto.
  • Renovation / Improvement Plans – if Fred in Lot 6 installed a 10-seater outdoor heated spa 5 years ago, then there should be a record of that, in the Body Corporate records. In turn that should include details of the three phase that he had to pull from the fuse box into his courtyard to run that monster.
  • Electrical Infrastructure Inventory – all of the items above, any (and every) Body Corporate should already have. This item is a new one, and it’s the first of many things you will have to do specially to deal with EV charging stations. You need to know through what arcane devices all the little dancing electrons party their way from the kerbside into your toaster, and back again (it’s an AC supply, after all). In particular, you need to know the specifications for all of those devices, how old they are, when they are due to be replaced, and how big and electron dance party they can cope with, safely. The things we are talking about are transformers, meters, safety switches, fuses and cabling; everyone always forgets the cabling for some reason. I digress, but when I did a reno some years ago, we discovered when upgrading it, that the cable supplying electricity to my house was just a little bit toasty – we had connected so many appliances in the house, that the 40m long supply cable running down the access easement was drawing so much current that it was physically hot!

That should about cover it. Of course, I reserve the right to add items later, but you should have all of this stuff, at a minimum. That is, unless you like waking up to electrical fires at 3am in the morning. Tune in next week (or whenever Smart Strata agrees to publish the next one), to read ‘know your product’.

This article was contributed by Michael Kleinschmidt from Stratum Legal 

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