Saanich councillor raises the possibility of charging for plugging in electric vehicles

Saanich councillor raises the possibility of charging for plugging in electric vehicles

Coun. Colin Plant said funds raised could help build EV infrastructure

A Saanich councillor plans to explore the possibility of pulling the plug on free electricity for drivers of electric vehicles.

“I wonder if Saanich should start charging the actual costs for electricity to the drivers in order to pay for future infrastructure investment needed for the mass increase in electric cars that will be coming,” asked Coun. Colin Plant on his Facebook page. “We pay for downtown parking. Why not pay for EV parking here in Saanich?”

Plant said in a later interview that he has not brought forward the idea formally. “I was just using my Facebook page as a sounding board,” he said.

“As EVs become more mainstream and stations become higher in demand, it is best practice to introduce a nominal fee for charging that helps recover electricity costs,” he said. “This is something that could be considered by Saanich.”

Plant, who drives an electric vehicle, is also willing put money where his mouth is.

“As an individual, I am willing to pay,” he said.

RELATED: Saanich to power up number of charging stations for electric vehicles

RELATED: Saanich drivers can plug into 30 charging stations for electric vehicles

Plant’s interest in the economics of charging stations stems from a recent invitation to the Victoria EV Club meeting in December to discuss existing and future EV infrastructure under the authority of the Capital Regional District and Saanich.

“The club members are interested in seeing more charging infrastructure in our region, and one member made the suggestion of charging for electricity to provide funds for more infrastructure investment,” he said. “This intrigued me.”

According to B.C. Hydro, British Columbia is home to more than 1,000 Level 2 chargers across B.C. – stations that will fully charge most vehicles in less than five hours. (Saanich operates 12 Level 2 charging stations, which do not charge for electricity).

This provincial network of Level 2 stations operate next to 58 BC Hydro-installed DC fast chargers that will do that same job in 30 minutes or less, plus a small network of Tesla superchargers for use by Tesla owners.

While most Level 2 charging stations do not charge consumers out of pocket, they are not free.

Their respective purchase, permitting and installation come with a price tag that ranges anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500, according to plugin.bc. Some also charge for parking while charging. (Depending on the vehicle, Level 1 charging may take anywhere between 13 and 71 hours, while Level 2 charging may take anywhere between three and 11.5 hours.)

DC fast-charging stations, meanwhile, cost anywhere between $50,000 and $100,000, according to plugin.bc. Not surprisingly, fast-charging stations like the one that opened near Uptown in March 2015 charge drivers — in that case, $0.35 per kW/h with a $2 minimum.

These costs, in turn, exist on top of the cost of the electricity. Saanich’s electricity costs are approximately $163 per month. Some locations see higher usage than others.

While EVs currently make up 1.5 per cent of the vehicle fleet in British Columbia, experts predict the number will rise in the coming years as British Columbia seeks to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

B.C Hydro predicts British Columbians will be driving 300,000 electric cars by 2030. A 2018 survey found one third of British Columbians think their next new car purchase could be electric, and that two in three think B.C. would be a better place with more electric vehicles. But more than six in 10 surveyed said there is not enough charging infrastructure in B.C. to make them feel comfortable about purchasing or leasing an electric vehicle. Almost 40 per cent said plug-ins do not have the range for longer trips.

RELATED: BC Hydro launches second phase of vehicle charging stations across southern B.C.

Hence the need for more infrastructure.

“The advantage of charging drivers, in my opinion, would be the opportunity to further fund EV charging infrastructure,” said Plant. “In the longer term as electric cars become more common, it will be prudent to recover the costs of the electricity.”

While free electricity encourages lower GHG emissions, Saanich taxpayers are subsidizing those drivers, said Plant, who acknowledges that charging for electricity might slow the conversion towards electric vehicles.

“I’m not sure this is likely, however, given the province’s announcement regarding only selling electric and hybrid cars by 2040 and that the costs of electric cars seems to be coming down…,” he said.

For now, Plant supports the provision of free electricity. “We are indeed interested in supporting and encouraging people to switch to electric vehicles.”

But changes might be ahead, as BC Hydro may allow public entities to sell electricity for EVs themselves. “At this point I am still collecting information on the topic and until the [British Columbia Utilities Commission] makes a final decision, there is actually no opportunity for Saanich to directly charge for the electricity at its chargers,” said Plant.

Saanich, he added, wants to be a leader in supplying EV infrastructure. “Saanich will be exploring the evolution of our public charging network, including associated fees, as part of the Climate Plan Update and supporting EV Strategy throughout 2019,” he said.

For example, Saanich is looking at policy to require all multi-unit new developments to have EV charging infrastructure installed as a requirement, he said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Gordon Head Recreation Centre stands in as the Quimper Regional Hospital on Feb. 23 for filming Maid, a 10-part Netflix series. (Greg Sutton/District of Saanich)
Netflix transforms Saanich recreation centre into hospital for filming

Facility was closed to public Feb. 23 for filming of Maid

Greg Chow is the 2021 Local Hero of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fighting fire a family affair for Colwood Assistant Chief Greg Chow

With 38 years of service, Greg Chow is the 2021 Hero of the Year

This rendering shows plans for the new “flyover”overpass connecting northbound traffic on Highway 17 heading west on Keating Cross Road. Plans currently seeking public input propose two options for the median along Keating Cross Road. Option 1 will prevent left turns onto Tamany Drive and Buena Vista Road. Option 2 (seen here)will allow for left turns onto Tamany Drive and Bujena Vista Road. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Public asked for comment on proposed overpass for Pat Bay in Central Saanich

New flyover overpass proposed for Highway 17 and Keating Cross Road

A pedestrian pushing two children in a stroller was struck by a driver while crossing a Highway 1 off-ramp at Burnside Road West on Feb. 24. (Google Streetview)
UPDATED: Pedestrian with two children in stroller struck in Saanich crosswalk after driver failed to yield

No serious injuries reported, driver issued $167 ticket under Motor Vehicle Act, police say

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 23

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media File Photo)
POLL: Are you struggling with Greater Victoria’s cost of housing?

While Victoria remains one of the most expensive cities in the country… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

Photograph By @KAYLAXANDERSON
VIDEO: Lynx grabs lunch in Kamloops

A lynx surprises a group of ducks and picks one off for lunch

Two women were arrested in Nanaimo for refusing to wear masks and causing disturbance on a BC Ferries vessel. (File photo)
B.C. ferry passengers arrested and fined for disturbance, refusing to wear masks

Police said woman threatened their pensions in Feb. 21 incident aboard Nanaimo-bound boat

When his owner had knee surgery, Kevin, 2, was able to continue to go for walks thanks to volunteers from Elder Dog Canada. (Contributed photo)
B.C. woman has nothing but praise for Elder Dog Canada

National organization has a fleet of volunteer walkers ready, but needs more clients to serve

A Nanaimo RCMP vehicle in the Woodgrove Centre parking lot. (News Bulletin file photo)
Woman groped by stranger in mall parking lot in Nanaimo

Incident happened near bus loop Saturday, Feb. 20, at about 4:45 p.m.

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

Most Read