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Billing EV charging by the kWh: legal or illegal?

Measurement Canada is an integral part of electric vehicle (EV) charging and yet it is often, and quickly overlooked for the role it plays in the cost of electricity and how it is measured. This article will highlight Measurement Canada’s importance and demystify some of the discussion around kilowatt per hour charging.

What is Measurement Canada?

Equipment needs to have perfectly calibrated measurement for the resale of goods and services. Imagine ordering slices of meat at the grocery store and being charged a couple of cents more because the calibration on the scale is off. This is a problem because both consumer and vendor might be unaware of the inaccuracy, and the inaccuracy multiplied by each transaction adds up. In other words, issues with measurement can be far from deliberate but have the potential to be costly when done discreetly and in scale.

Inaccuracies rarely go unnoticed too, such as when Industry Canada (now Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada) instituted a penalty under the Fairness at the Pumps Act for inaccurate fuel dispensation¹. This is to say that accurate measurement needs to be tackled and resolved as electricity becomes our new fuel. All charging stations and supply equipment will need to be regularly monitored, updated, and repaired so as to provide accuracy – given that “pumps” are at home, and not somewhere where a commercial entity has the responsibility to the consumer.

This is why Measurement Canada oversees, authorizes and certifies “devices that measure”: machines that weigh, gas pumps, and, importantly for the world of charging, electrical equipment. All appliances that deliver electricity should be Measurement Canada calibrated and certified to deliver the most accurate numbers and costs.

What is Measurement Canada changing?

Beginning in 2022 and expanding to non-commercial or private charging in March 2023, Measurement Canada introduced a dispensation program temporarily exempting both commercial and non-commercial charging equipment from having a Measurement Canada certification, effectively changing how billing can be handled. 

Prior to the change, the only legal way to charge was at an hourly rate or by flat fee (e.g. $10 per hour). This was inconvenient for those who had a limited charging speed – they would be charged more for taking more time, versus vehicles who could benefit from a quick charge. Charging at an hourly rate also works against those that might not have favourable charging conditions; charging speed is subject to temperature, state of charge, and the type of electric vehicle being driven.

Is it illegal to be billing electricity by the kWh without being Measurement Canada certified?

Yes, it is illegal. Currently, you cannot be billing a user by the kilowatt hour (kWh) using a device that is not Measurement Canada certified. This is why nearly all charging equipment on the market today uses time-based or flat-fee billing by default.

However, by filling out the documentation and following the Terms and Conditions for the dispensation program that Measurement Canada put into effect this year, an owner of a single EV charging station or EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment) would have the authorization to bill by the kWh. Some of the criteria required in order to qualify includes having measurement equipment in place, having testing on the device conducted, instituting a way to track and invoice transaction information, as well as applying for a certificate registering the owner of the EVSE to become a contractor for the resale of electricity (further described below).

You can read the full Terms and Conditions here

Do I need to register as a contractor to be considered for this dispensation?

As stated on Measurement Canada’s frequently asked questions for the temporary dispensation program “Contractor registration is a mandatory requirement as per the EGIA and is not exempted via the temporary dispensation program.”² This obligation of the program makes sense given how electricity by the kWh is typically handled by a utility, or more broadly, how fuel is regulated by overseeing bodies, and for an EV, electricity is being dispensed like fuel. 

Also a factor is the legality of electricity billing agreements, or electricity resale, that can occur between property owners and tenants for use of charging stations. The overseeing of electricity resale at private residential properties is largely unprecedented and might require formalization should charging station users be billed fairly according to use and not strictly to recoup costs.

What does this say about the future?

Currently, to be approved for the dispensation program, each individual owner of a charging station will need to apply for the Measurement Canada exception, something that might then need to be shared with the charging service provider who operates the equipment. Importantly, charging equipment that complies, and equipment to be registered under the exemption, will lose this status after 2030. All devices that measure electricity will need to comply with future Measurement Canada rules to determine whether electricity for charging is measured accurately.

This is largely due to the evolution of charging station technology and the length of time to which a charging station will remain accurate and functional.³ Changes may also take place due to the sometimes unpredictable nature of private and residential charging: maintaining EV chargers powered by a common power supply in every multi-family dwelling or home can be more to manage than that of commercial charging as it involves many stakeholders and many individual needs. And despite complexity,having standards for equipment placed in Canada’s homes and residential buildings remains a critical and necessary step towards real future-proofing and nationwide fairness for homeowners and renters.

How does RVE comply?

RVE has been a longtime advocate for managing electric vehicle charging directly in the electrical infrastructure of the building, where there is the greatest opportunity for controlling and measuring energy. The benefit of placing a device here is that developing one with Measurement Canada certification can be more easily implemented, as the device can be owned by a property manager and not by each individual, such as with your typical metering devices or stacks. 

Better than this, in the proposed approaches for EV charging, Measurement Canada even suggests using a metering device, sometimes called multi-customer metering systems, as the alternative to the dispensation program. A multi-customer metering system, or a smart metering panel, can already be Measurement Canada certified, measure electricity according to consumption in real time, can handle billing in a simplified way, often without added management fees, and therefore can bill by the kWh without need of an exemption. 

RVE is proud to be developing one such product, currently already tested in buildings in Quebec.

Look at this case study to see how our Smart Metering Panel (SMP) is being used in multi-unit residential buildings.

What does RVE think about the evolution of charging?

We think that while the technology involved in charging an electric vehicle can be new territory, it should be as familiar as the components that make it up: electricity from a reliable and safe powersource connected to reliable and safe electrical equipment. In this way Measurement Canada and RVE align: an electric vehicle charging system needs to be accurate, dependable, and certified for there to be the greatest benefit to all stakeholders, from electrical professional to property manager to consumer. For this reason RVE always seeks out Measurement Canada certification for its products and because our devices comply, we can offer kWh billing and accurate electricity measurement.


For a residential property, in the case of non-commercial, private and individually owned charging stations (excluding shared stations or stations for visitors), there are two methods to establish the amount due (i.e. the bill) for the supply of electricity by the kWh (as opposed to a time-based or flat-fee rate, i.e. $ amount per # of hours).

Using an electricity meter or a multi-customer metering system ( such as the SMP by RVE);
Using an EV charging station that has been approved under a temporary exemption (subject to the terms and conditions set by Measurement Canada).

Additional details

Sold exclusively in Quebec, and with a second generation being piloted, the Smart Metering Panel SMP by RVE is a multi-customer metering system that manages and measures energy for properties using common infrastructure to power electric vehicles. Measurement of electricity by the SMP uses a real-time model, which makes it a smart metering panel that is uniquely Measurement Canada certified. It should be noted that like all charging systems, operators of the SMP (in this case, a property manager or landlord) will still need a notice of registration to act as a “contractor” for use of the kWH advantage. To learn more about the SMP, please contact our sales team.
A temporary exemption or dispensation is issued to charging station or EVSE owners, on a per device and per location basis (not associated to manufacturer or device type) and it allows owners of EV charging stations to provide non-commercial charging services in kilowatt hours. 
 In order to receive this benefit:

  • The device owner must hold a valid certificate of registration issued in accordance with the requirements of the Electricity and Gas Inspection Regulation.
  • The charging station must not be relocated or decommissioned, or else a new application for exemption needs to be made. 
  • The charging station must always comply with the conditions of the exemption, including:
    • is not operated commercially or made available to the general public
    • supplies electricity within a tolerance agreed to by the owner and consumer
    • is installed with a metering system capable of measuring the energy supplied
    • uses the watt hour as the unit of measurement for the sale of electricity
    • is operated in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications
    • has a means of displaying and transmitting legally relevant information that is either connected to an integrated, remote, unconnected system, or cloud-based network
    • is tested and has all testing recorded, and records must be available to Measurement Canada upon request
    • involves a system for complaints whereby complaints must be recorded, kept on file, and available to Measurement Canada upon request 
    • Has an associated digital or physical plaque on each eligible EV charging station indicating that the device has been granted a temporary exemption

The information presented in this article summarizes what can be found in the details of Measurement Canada’s dispensation program, where you can find the most accurate and up to date information relating to the program.

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