How Fairfax Co. is trying to make it easier to own an electric car

Electric vehicle charging stations could be coming to some Fairfax County, Virginia, neighborhoods where residents don’t have garages or driveways to store them.

As part of its Charge Up Fairfax pilot program, the county’s Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination has picked 10 communities where it’ll help homeowners and condo owners associations with installing the stations.

Five HOAs were selected as part of the pilot earlier this year, and another five were picked last week. Those interested have to apply.

“Everyone says, ‘The best place to charge is at home,’” said John Morrill, OEEC’s acting director. “The reality is, for many households, especially those living in condominiums or homeowners associations, they don’t have a driveway of their own, or a garage attached to their house where they can just plug in their car into their own plug.”

An engineering firm conducts a site assessment in the selected neighborhoods, Morrill said, and if the area decides to buy and install an electric vehicle charging station, the community will work with a contractor.

The county, he said, is offering a reimbursement incentive of up to one-third the cost of installation, with a maximum of $5,000. The county will pay $10,000 if an area is identified as one of the designated areas of need or vulnerability, Morrill said.

The agency, Morrill said, is “looking for areas that are close to power sources and use parking spaces that are owned by the community association.”

The number of charging stations will be left up to each neighborhood, but Morrill said each charging device usually has two charging ports.

None of the neighborhoods selected have hired contractors to install the chargers, but Morrill said “they’ve been getting further pricing and further information, and so we’re hopeful that they will be doing these installations before long.”

Some of the communities have cited cost as an issue, even with the reimbursement, Morrill said.

“They’re finding that these installations, they’re getting quotations in the range of $20,000 to $45,000,” he said. “That all depends on the specifics of the layout and the availability and how nearby the power is.”

The county has been working with five communities at a time, but could expand the program in the spring, Morrill said.

The five latest neighborhoods to be selected include:

  • Colonies at McLean
  • Strathmeade Square Community
  • Villa Ridge Condominium
  • Washington Plaza Cluster Association
  • Waterford Square Condominium Unit Owners Association

“Helping get EV charging to make the ownership of EVs easier for people is very much an action that supports countywide policy goals,” Morrill said.

He said the county isn’t “pushing EVs for EVs’ sake.”

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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