The vast majority of electric car charging happens at home or at work, and in British Columbia 95% of all car trips in BC’s urban areas are less than 30km, well within the range of a typical electric car. However, public charging infrastructure is also needed to allow people to top up while they go about their daily errands, to support longer road trips, and to provide peace of mind for drivers, should they need those extra kms.
Level 2 (240volt)
While the majority of Level 2 (240v – SAE J1772 plug) public charging stations are free to use, many require drivers to join a service network to access the stations. Members are offered various ways to authorize the use of a charging station, such as scanning a member card at the desired charging station. EV owners can obtain a member card by registering online with the charging service networks. Some networks’ stations can also be authorized through a smart phone app or a credit card. There are currently three predominant networks in B.C.: ChargePoint, VERNetwork, and GreenLots (for DC Fast Chargers). Learn more about service networks and membership options in BC.
PlugShare is a wiki-based online map and App of charging stations across North America. Find out where the nearest one to you.
As part of the Clean Energy Vehicle program, British Columbia invested $2.7M towards supporting deployment of public Level 2 charging infrastructure, through the Community Charging Infrastructure (CCI) Fund.
The goal was to support charging stations serving members of the public or fleets, with participation of municipalities, regional governments, First Nations communities, BC businesses and other organizations. The results were 456 stations installed over the span of less than one year. Read more about the CCI program and results.
In parallel, the City of Vancouver also implemented a charging station program, supporting over 90 stations throughout the City. Read more about charging station installation here.
In order to understand how these stations are being used, and to help inform future deployment and related policy, BC Hydro and PowerTech Labs are tracking the usage data of over 300 of these stations. A public portal that summarizes the usage, and highlights some of the stations and their hosts is available here. Read the Oct 6, 2014 press release on the station use.
DC Fast Charging
The Province of BC and the federal government are supporting 30 DC fast chargers through a pilot managed by BC Hydro. As of February 2016, there are 18 sites in BC to fast-charge your EV (not including Tesla’s SuperChargers).
These stations are located throughout the province and concentrated in the Lower Mainland. There are more planned and locations will be determined based on a range of factors including distance between stations and completing a full corridor loop in the Southern Interior.
See also: UBC TIPS Lab projects for the research behind site selection.
Usage Fees Unlike the majority of Level 2 stations, the DC Fast Chargers are a premium charging service, providing up to 80% of a vehicle charge in 20 minutes or less, and are significantly more expensive to install and operate. As such, most DC Fast Charging stations throughout North America have user fees. In B.C., for the purpose of the pilot DC fast charging project, all hosts have agreed to implement a $0.35/kWh charge with a minimum $2.00 sales per charge session. The minimum sales amount ensures the recovery of the $0.91 payment transaction fee and any electricity (kWh) dispensed before reaching the $2.00 mark.
There are other costs for hosting a DC fast charger station, including purchasing and installation costs, and operating costs. A detailed look at how these costs are dealt with, the rationale behind the price structure, and other FAQs can be downloaded here.