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Electric car update: more help, new fees, charger rebates

Image of a BC Hydro EV charging at a fast charger in 70 Mile House, B.C.
After an introductory period of free charging, BC Hydro's DC fast-charging stations, including this one at 70 Mile House in the Cariboo, now require per-minute fees for usage. At the majority of the stations, the cost is 21 cents per minute.

BC Utilities Commission approves per-minute fees for BC Hydro fast chargers

It was always designed to be a temporary free charge, and as of May 1, electric vehicle drivers using BC Hydro's network of fast charging stations began paying per-minute fees to charge their plug-in vehicles.

On March 23, the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) provided interim approval of charging rates for BC Hydro's charging stations, which are mainly located in key cities and along major highways across B.C. While most EV drivers do the majority of their charging at home, fast charging stations offer a speedier option while on the road, with most vehicles charging to 80% in less than 45 minutes.

To help new and seasoned EV drivers while at its stations, BC Hydro has created a new public charging help centre. Here you'll find answers to questions ranging from charging time to seasonal considerations and charging station etiquette.

As of May 1, the following interim rates are in effect at BC Hydro's charging stations:

  • 12 cents per minute at 25 kW charging stations (currently in Hope, Squamish and Horseshoe Bay)
  • 21 cents per minute at 50 kW charging stations (all remaining locations)
  • 27 cents per minute at 100 kW charging stations (for future use – not yet deployed)

BC Hydro recommends that drivers have a $10 minimum balance in their EV accounts – it's easy to download the BC Hydro EV app for Apple or Android devices – to ensure convenient use of the chargers.

At 50 kW stations, which make up the lion's share of chargers in the network, 10 minutes of charging would cost $2.10, enough to charge a Hyundai Kona Electric for an estimated 48 km of driving. That compares to a cost of about $5.50 in fuel costs to go the same distance in a gas-powered Kona.

Rebates for home and workplace chargers, and EV help for stratas

A new round of CleanBC rebate funding for the purchase and installation of level 2 chargers in homes and workplaces has also been announced.

Single-family homes can get a rebate of up to 50% of the purchase and installation costs of an eligible Level 2 EV charger, to a maximum of $350. This includes duplexes or townhouses with private garages or dedicated parking.

For those looking to add charging infrastructure to apartment and condo complexes, CleanBC offers an EV Ready program – administered by BC Hydro and FortisBC – that helps fund a variety of planning and upgrades. 'EV ready' means getting a building ready to accommodate high levels of future EV charging, including parking spaces featuring an energized outlet with a cover that provides a final connection point in an electrical wiring installation for a Level 2 EV charger.

BC Hydro adds charging stations, including two along Highway 16

BC Hydro's charging network has expanded to more than 70 locations and more than 90 fast chargers, including two new stations as the first step in electrifying Highway 16 west of Prince George.

After extending its fast-charging network north from Cache Creek to Prince George, and from Prince George to Kamloops along the Yellowhead Highway, BC Hydro has added new stations on Highway 16 at Burns Lake and Prince Rupert. Later this year, stations will also be added at Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, Houston, Smithers, New Hazelton, Terrace and Kitimat.

Also on the way are stations east of Whistler at Pemberton and Lillooet, plus stations in Agassiz, Maple Ridge and on East Hastings Street in Burnaby. Also planned are upgrades to existing stations at Whistler and Horseshoe Bay.

Earlier this year, BC Hydro added a new station in downtown Victoria, while upgrading stations in Kerrisdale (Vancouver), Cloverdale, Sechelt, and at the University of B.C.

As of May 1, per-minute fees are now charged at all BC Hydro fast-charging stations.