The District of Squamish is hoping to plug into government cash for an electric vehicle charging station.
The Fraser Basin Council, a not-for-profit organization focusing on sustainable practices, and B.C. Hydro are rolling out a provincial plan to help extend the “green highway.”
In March, California announced $120 million would be spent on charging stations throughout the state — money that's part of a campaign to put 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2025.
North of the border, the province boosted its $17-million Clean Energy Vehicle Program with a $2.74-million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund. The cash will build plug-in units to enable electric vehicle owners to drive from California to B.C.
Thirty “Level 3” fast charging stations are slated to be in place in B.C. by 2016, said Alec Tsang in a presentation to the Squamish Transit Standing Committee on Tuesday (Sept. 11). Thirteen are scheduled to be running by the end of this fiscal year, the B.C. Hydro technology strategist added, noting it's a challenging time schedule.
The units are similar in size and format to gas pumps. The terminals can charge vehicles in 10 to 30 minutes and consume approximately the same amount of electricity as a clothes dryer or stove.
On a full charge, an electric vehicle can travel roughly 80 to 120 kilometres, which covers the majority of the population's commuting needs, Tsang said. The price tag for a single plug-in unit runs between $100,000 to $130,000, he said, noting expenses will diminish as the technology becomes more mainstream.
“Certainly this would be a good strategic location between Vancouver and Whistler for a stopover,” Tsang said.
The province is asking interested communities to submit potential sites for the units. Later this month, B.C. Hydro will meet with municipalities to review proposals. If selected, the district may have a charging station as early as March 2013.
Initially, B.C. Hydro would operate the sites, with the intention of covering electricity bills, Tsang said. Down the road, costs may fall to the municipality, he noted. On the top end, electricity costs 10 cents per kilowatt hour, Tsang said, adding that 20 hours equal $2.
Business models have not been ironed out, he said. Currently, only a registered utility can charge for electricity.
“If the host is interested in taking over operations, we are open to that,” he said, warning, “We don't see a big revenue stream in it.”
Data from the units in the pilot project will be collected and analyzed, Tsang said. The information will also be added to a broader North American look at electric vehicle use.
The committee, chaired by Coun. Susan Chapelle, is recommending that council direct the district to examine the Squamish Adventure Centre, downtown and Garibaldi Estates as possible sites for charging stations.
“I think a lot of hesitance for not getting [an electric] vehicle is the lack of charging stations,” Chapelle said.
Having a unit in Squamish would not only promote the environmentally friendly technology, but also bring economic benefits.
“[Visitors] could wait at the Adventure Centre for 20 minutes and be spending money,” she said.