Electric

Two years after Virginia passed Right-to-Charge legislation for owners of electric vehicles, challenges remain for various residents, including those utilizing common access parking, living in multi-family buildings, or living under strict homeowner’s association (HOA) regulation.

The bill, passed in April 2020, established the right of electric vehicle (EV) owners to access charging stations by preventing home and condominium owners from prohibiting the installation of charging stations, as long as certain conditions are met.

To address concerns and receive feedback from the community in regard to charging stations, the Reston Association (RA) hosted Charge Up Fairfax on Nov. 9.

During the event, residents were surveyed about their EV needs, as well as instructed on the best protocol for installation and compliance with state law.

In alignment with meeting Fairfax County’s goals to reduce carbon emissions through the Fairfax County Community-Wide Energy and Climate Action Plan established in September 2021, local government is particularly interested in encouraging the capability of residents to use EV charging stations.

“Strong growth in the use of electric vehicles (EVs) is essential to meet Fairfax County’s ambitious carbon reduction goals set in the Community-wide Energy and Climate Action Plan (CECAP),” said Division Manager for Innovation & Sustainability John Morrill. “Charging EVs is generally easiest at home, and the industry assumes most people can do most of their charging at home.”

However, many individuals in the county face challenges when attempting to implement their own charging stations.

Some of these struggles include strict regulations imposed by local HOAs, a lack of private garage or driveway access in residential buildings such as apartments and condominiums, as well as individuals living with common access parking that will not fulfill the needs of the EV owner.

“Fairfax has over 1,000 HOAs and therefore a significant portion of Fairfax residents do not have easy access to home charging,” said Morill. “Our meeting in Reston on Nov. 9 [provided] county staff with an opportunity to learn more about the specific challenges in common-interest communities as we plan programming to assist these communities.”

In working with residents in neighborhoods with a strict HOA presence, Charge Up hopes to accommodate the concerns of HOA members alongside residents through reimbursement packages.

Another common roadblock for residents can be the costs of installing a charging station and the subsequent cost of electricity to use one, as well as the technical work needed to keep them up to date. All of these constraints are slated to be remedied through financial assistance grants which would cover costs up to $5,000. Communities that are identified as being economically disadvantaged will have the opportunity to apply for two grants, with their reimbursement covering up to $10,000 of the cost.

While the goal of the meeting was to assist residents regarding future access to charging stations near their residences, Fairfax County government also emphasizes that the Washington region currently houses various public charging stations, with more than 200 located in Fairfax County.

To find charging stations nearby, residents are encouraged to use the Alternative Fueling Station Locator, which can be found online at bit.ly/3WHOtqF.

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