Artist’s conception of the kind of electric vehicle charging station being proposed by BC Hydro (Image courtesy BC Hydro)

More electric vehicle charging stations proposed

BC Hydro pitches plan to District of Houston council

And then there were two.

The District of Houston council last week endorsed what would be a second electric charging network station here as attempts continue to encourage the purchase and use of zero emission vehicles by ensuring they can be conveniently recharged along Hwy16.

This time council has agreed in principle to a BC Hydro plan to place a Level 3 charging station of two outlets here as part of a plan by the crown corporation to expand its charging network across all of the province by placing 10 stations along Hwy. 16.

It earlier agreed to sign on to the Charge North plan being developed by six regional districts and the communities within them to install 120 Level 2 chargers from Kamloops north.

And with both types of chargers, council wants them at Steelhead Park, close to tourist and other amenities.

District staffers also thought a location downtown would add to the prospect of electric vehicle owners shopping at stores while their vehicles were recharging.

Even though there may be two charging station networks in development, they shouldn’t be regarded as competitors, says a BC Hydro official.

“BC Hydro’s network includes Level 3 electric vehicle fast chargers, which can charge most electric vehicles in 30 minutes, making them ideal for long distance travel by electric vehicle along highway corridors,” said Tanya Fish in adding the networks will be complementary.

“Level 2 chargers fully charge most vehicles in less than five hours, which makes them ideal for home, work and destination charging, where visitors plan to stay in a community for a while.”

Both types of chargers would replace an old Level 1 charger originally installed by the District of Houston some years ago but which is not supported any longer by its manufacturer. It’s due to be decommissioned by the District.

To date BC Hydro has installed 58 Level 3 stations in B.C. with the assistance of federal grants and is applying for additional federal grants to finance its Hwy16 plans. It also has provincial financial backing.

Information provided by BC Hydro indicates that based on getting a federal grant, there’d be no charge to a local government for installing one of its Level 3 charging stations.

The provincial crown corporation states that each station of two chargers would cost $200,000 with $100,000 coming from the federal government, $50,000 from the province and $50,000 from itself. There’d be no charge to the District for participating.

Janice Keyes, who works for the Community Energy Association which is developing the Charge North network plan for Level 2 chargers for the participating regional districts and municipalities, pointed out that not all electric vehicles can use a Level 3 charger.

“There are two kinds of EVs (electric vehicles),” she said. “There are ones that are fully electric and there are others, hybrids, who also use gas. And lots of hybrids can’t use a Level 3; they need a Level 2.”

Cost is also a factor given that a Level 3 charger can cost $100,00 compared to $10,000 for a Level 2, Keyes continued.

“Smaller municipalities might not be in a position to spend that kind of money,” she said of a Level 3 cost.

As with the BC Hydro proposal, the Charge North network also depends upon obtaining government grants and in this case, a grant from the province.

If successful, that’s expected to cover approximately 73 per cent of the cost of the projected $10,000 Level 2 charger cost. Houston council has agreed to cover the remaining cost. There would be no charge to the District to take part in the BC Hydro network.

Keyes said the Community Energy Association is excited about recent provincial government moves to boost charger availability and continue vehicle purchase incentives.

While BC Hydro would own and operate its chargers, Charge North would put its charging stations out to bid to select a supplier and then a network service provider.

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