Houston is to get a high-speed electric vehicle charger courtesy of BC Hydro similar to this one at Valemount, east of Prince George. In the photo is Valemount mayor Owen Torgerson, Valemount councillor Pete Pearson and Jen Walker-Larsen from BC Hydro. (BC Hydro photo)

Houston to host high speed electric vehicle charging station

It will be installed and paid for by BC Hydro

Houston is to host a high-speed electric vehicle charging station thanks to a lease signed between BC Hydro and the District of Houston.

The ten-year lease is for the equivalent of three parking spots abutting a charging station to be installed and owned by BC Hydro in the laneway north of 9th St. and will fit in with the redevelopment and beautification of the downtown area there.

The charger is called a Level 3 Direct Current Fast Charging Station or DCFC and will fully charge and electric vehicle within 30 to 40 minutes, making them highly desirable as an incentive for people to purchase the zero-emissions vehicles.

“By locating a new station in the downtown, electric vehicle traffic would be encouraged to stop in the downtown core and will likely increase the amount of highway traffic contributing to the local economy,” District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck wrote in a memo to council members.

There’s no charge to the District for the $250,000 station and electric vehicle owners won’t be charged a fee but BC Hydro is applying to its regulator, the BC Utilities Commission, for approval to set up a fee system, said BC Hydro official David Mosure.

“The plan is for the fast charging station in Houston to be completed this fall (2020), but the schedule may be delayed somewhat due to unforeseen challenges such as COVID-19,” he said.

Overall, BC Hydro wants to place Level 3 stations every 60 to 80 kilometres along Hwy16 from Prince George to Prince Rupert and over to Haida Gwaii, Mosure added.

To date it has announced locations in Fraser Lake at the recreation centre and in New Hazelton with construction and installation dates to be confirmed.

BC Hydro has two Level 3 stations east of Prince George along Hwy16 and the additions west of Prince George follow its plan for an extensive network across the province.

An electric vehicle charger station would not be new to Houston — the District has hosted one for several years near the visitor centre at Steelhead Park but it is a Level 1, requiring more time to charge a vehicle.

It is, however, scheduled to be replaced by a Level 2 charger which is not as fast as a Level 3 but is being regarded as one travellers can use while having a meal, shopping or undertaking another activity within walking distance.

The Level 2 charger is to be part of a network called Charge North, a collaboration between local governments across the region and down into the Cariboo and the Vancouver-based Community Energy Association.

The District of Houston has already committed $5,000 as its share of this Level 2 station and the energy association is awaiting word on a provincial grant application to complete the financing needed for 26 Level 2 stations along Hwy16 and down into the Cariboo.

Also in the Level 3 charging station business along Hwy16 is the provincial transportation ministry which has just done an installation at the Boulder Creek rest stop west of Kitwanga.

In addition to the above, there are a number of Level 2 and other stations along Hwy16 installed and maintained by various businesses.

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