Homeowners Association Cuts Off Chevy Volt Owner For Refusing To Pay 300% Markup on Electricity

Here at Transport Evolved, we’ve made a point to cover stories of public charging station providers who ask electric car owners to pay a massive markup on the cost of electricity when they plug-in in public. And while many electric car owners baulk at the prospect of paying many times more to charge their electric car in public than they would at home, the arguments made by charging providers — who say they need to charge extra to cover overheads, equipment, maintenance and staff costs — can be justified, at least in a business case.

A Chevy Volt owner from Detroit is being asked to pay $200 for charging her Volt in her Condo Garage.

A Chevy Volt owner from Detroit is being asked to pay $200 for charging her Volt in her Condo Garage.

But one Chevrolet Volt owner in Waterford, Detroit is in a battle with her local Homeowners Association after they demanded she pay a $200 electricity bill which the HOA says she has racked up after charging her Chevrolet Volt every night in her own garage, a mark up of 300 percent on the actual cost of the electricity she claims the local utility company billed the HOA. When she refused to pay the bill, the HOA cut off her power.

Enter Natalie Forte, a resident a condo owner on Elizabeth Lake Road in Waterford, Detroit. Keen to do her bit for the environment — and Detroit’s automotive industry — Forte purchased a Chevrolet Volt back in June, which she notified the Homeowners Association attached to her property she would be charging up every night in the detached garage included in the deeds to her home. Because the garage isn’t physically connected to her condo, the power supply to Forte’s garage is shared among all the other garages in the development and paid for jointly by the HOA from the monthly HOA fees charged to each and every resident.

As local news station WXYZ details, Forte has always been willing to pay any excess electricity charges to the HOA caused by her charging up her Volt every night from the 110-volt outlet in her garage. So far, those costs are estimated to be less than $50 at current electricity prices. But when the HOA told her that the costs associated with charging her car were too much — and presented her with a bill for $200 and demanded she pay it — Forte was shocked.

“I love my car,” she told WXYZ. “And I’m a Detroiter.”

Forte says she’s “happy to pay for the electricity I’ve used,” and has even written a cheque for $50 payable to the HOA to cover the electricity she’s used in the last five months, an amount that she says is in line with the bill given to the HOA by the local utility company for her garage.  But with the cheque uncashed and the HOA refusing to accept less than the $200 it says she owes, Forte discovered last week that the HOA has cut off the electricity to her garage.

“[It’s] gouging. Definitely gouging,” she told local reporters. “Up to four times as much money. I feel harassed.”

With no power in her garage and her cheque still to be cashed, Forte — an investigator for a local law firm — says she has no other option to charge her Volt but run a 100 foot extension cord every night from her condo, a cable run which includes draping the cable down a flight of stairs and across paths.

After hanging up on local reporters twice, the president of Forte’s HOA refused to comment on the bill it has tried to levy against Forte. Instead, he would only confirm that the HOA voted 4:1 to cut power to her garage, a vote which was actioned last week. But with Forte’s case now getting local — and international coverage — we suspect this won’t be the end of her battle.

Are you a condo owner? Do you pay homeowners fees? Have you been asked to unplug and massive markups on the electricity you’ve used?

Leave your thoughts and experiences in the Comments below.


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  • Duncan Booth

    Electricity tariffs vary widely, but I wonder how she calculated the $50? Over 5 months that would represent $0.33 per day to charge her Volt and I found a page which says the average Detroit household electricity tariff is 15.3 cents per kWh, so if that is correct she’s using an average of just over 2kWh per day which is not a lot of driving. A markup of 300% on that is still just over half a charge a day so perfectly feasible that she could have incurred it.nnnObviously there’s not enough detail above to say who’s right and who’s wrong, but I could easily believe that someone has miscalculated and it might not be the HOA.

  • Matt Beard

    I find Housing Associations really scary aspects of living in the USA – it sounds like it can be living with a cross between the WI* and the Mob!nn* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_Institutes

    • You know we have them here too, right?

      • Matt Beard

        I have to say that I have never met such a group here (but I don’t doubt there are a few), however I have heard loads of horror stories from the states!

    • CDspeed

      They aren’t in every neighborhood over here, HOAs are usually in new or fairly new housing developments. They’re usually gated, and have ridiculous names that attemp to make the neighborhood sound more special then it really is. They are a bit like consecration camps, follow the rules, pay your fees, keep “your property” the way we want you to, or suffer the consequences. You can hunt for homes that aren’t in what’s called a “deed restricted community”. There are still plenty of neighborhoods in the US that are just old fashioned neighborhoods without deed restrictions or HOAs. Condos on the other hand will always have HOAs.

  • Esl1999 .

    Without the facts, there is no siding with anyone. EV owners aren’t above the law. So, instantly siding with her because she drives a Volt is ridiculous. The Volt owner could be the neighbor from hell and everybody wants her out or the Volt owner is in the right. There could even be someone running a power hungry device and hoping she gets nailed for it. Who the hell knows.

  • MEroller

    I decided to circumvent such events completely and had my parking lot and garage connected to the grid via my own basement storage compartment, which is lit from my own flat’s circuit. So all charging (and battery heating…) electricity runs solely through our own meter. And now accounts for about 25% of our annual electricity bill.nnI only take advantage of communal power driving our high-power external lighting when I have to work on my electric scooter/motorcylce on these dark fall and winter evenings…

  • Kenneth_Brown

    One would think that the HOA would be more rational. Why don’t they have her fit a locked meter to the electrical outlet in the garage and monitor the usage for a month and revise the bill. The Volt might even be storing a history of charging. nnnShe notified the HOA that she would be charging her Volt from the outlet in her garage so it’s not a surprise. Why didn’t they make some sort of payment arrangements at that time instead of presenting a bill with no way to justify the amount? nnnA really good look at the sort of people that run HOA’s.

  • isar alaramendi

    Hello there Fantastic page Wonderful info!! You should also
    check out this video The Pros & Cons Of an HOA ( Home Owners Association
    ) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cOGmMRdt0c