by Ravi Malhotra
NH&RA Tax Credit Advisor, June 2023
As demand for electric vehicles (EVs) intensifies, multifamily (MF) owners and operators are increasingly forced to explore their EV charging options. EV sales have soared, increasing by 67% from 2021 to 2022, and the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) has adopted an International Code Council provision requiring apartment communities to provide EV charging infrastructure for up to 20% of lots with 25 or more parking spaces. States such as California and New York are working to phase out sales of new gas-powered vehicles within the next 15 years. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) established valuable tax credits for purchasing EVs, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provided funding to build out the nation’s EV charger network.
Installing EV charging infrastructure can improve property value, help property owners attract and retain tenants, and reduce the disproportionate cost of transportation for low-income residents. As MF affordable housing (MFAH) property owners weigh infrastructure and charger options for their properties, it is important to consider installation costs, which can vary based on factors including:
- the number and type of charging infrastructure (Level 1, 2, or 3),
- the geographic location, which governs labor and permitting costs, and local utility plus state and local government incentives,
- the specific location of EV charger on your MFAH site, with costs for required trenching, and
- the required electrical upgrades to utility transformers and electrical panels to accommodate existing and future electric load increases.
Labor is the largest expense in a typical installation, and the per-charger cost goes down significantly for larger installations. DOE offers a resource of federal, state, local, and utility incentives that may be available to offset installation costs (provided in the sources below).
Level 2 chargers are the most common in apartment buildings. They can also network and balance electrical loads. In some states, governments and utilities offer rebates and incentives for chargers. For example, California utilities have provided approx. $240M for EV charging infrastructure at MF properties since 2016, and Colorado provides rebates of up to 80% of charging station costs for MF properties (90% for income-eligible MF properties). Additionally, through the IRA, MF properties that install new EV chargers or charging equipment can claim a tax credit of up to 30% of the cost of the installation and equipment. It should be noted that the project must meet certain labor and construction requirements to receive the full benefit.