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Sparks fly: Lack of charging etiquette leads to conflict at the electric pump

VANCOUVER: BC Hydro finds almost a quarter of EV drivers surveyed have argued with a fellow EV driver at a public charging station, and almost one-third have witnessed such an argument.

The survey¹ conducted for BC Hydro finds that while the majority of EV owners have not argued or seen an argument at a public charging station, a lack of awareness of proper EV charging etiquette could be leading to conflict between some EV drivers at public charging stations.

For example, the survey found over 30 per cent of EV owners have had another EV driver unplug, or attempt to unplug their vehicle while it was charging at a public station. In addition, 24 per cent have experienced extreme frustration when other EV drivers use a public charger to fully charge their vehicle.

The survey also found the majority of EV drivers will go out of their way to take advantage of public charging. This includes over half of those surveyed admitting to making changes to their daily schedule or routine for better access to a public charger.

Drivers of gas-powered vehicles are not outside this conflict. The survey found around 30 per cent of non-EV owners think it is unfair that EV charging stations are located at the most desirable parking stall locations, such closest to a store entrance. In contrast, 42 per cent of EV owners think more priority should be given to parking stalls with chargers.

Charging at home means EV drivers can avoid the potential for conflict at public chargers. A recent report from BC Hydro entitled ‘Old habits drive hard: How British Columbians’ fueling habits are driving misconceptions about EV charging’  found most EV drivers charge at home or at work, and use public chargers to supplement this. For a limited time, British Columbians can take advantage of rebates up to $700 on eligible Level 2 home chargers, offered by the Province of B.C. and BC Hydro.

There are more than 1,700 public charging stations available across the province, including BC Hydro’s network of fast-chargers that it continues to expand. When using these chargers, BC Hydro recommends EV drivers follow basic charging etiquette, including:

  • Take only what is needed: limit charging to a maximum of around 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Be careful where you park: avoid parking at an EV charging stall if not charging, or waiting to charge.
  •  Use the PlugShare app to keep others informed: leave a comment on PlugShare if there is a problem with a station, or to let other drivers when to expect the charger will be available.
  • Do not unplug others: unless there is a note on the vehicle or on PlugShare giving permission to do so – resist the urge to unplug another vehicle.

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[¹] Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury onbehalf of BC Hydro of 1,162 drivers in British Columbia from July 29 to August 5, 2019.