Plug pulled on charging station

by Andru McCracken


This Tesla parked on 5th Avenue just outside of The Gathering Tree is proof of electric cars already rolling through Valemount. / Joseph Nusse

Charging your car for an hour at a Level 2 Charging station takes only 50 cents worth of electricity, but as far as Valemount Council is concerned, visitors to Valemount can pay for their own fuel.

Council considered applying for a new charging station through an initiative called Charge North.

According to the lead agency, the Community Energy Association (CEA) a new provincial funding stream would offer 73% of capital funding for the project. Local governments would be responsible for 11 to 23% of the remaining costs (amounting to between $2500 and $5000).

“Taxpayers are going to be paying for this,” said Counc. Hollie Blanchette. “I don’t go to Prince George and expect somebody to pay for my gas.”

She said a charging station exists at the Best Western, and the Petro Canada is considering installing 50 electric vehicle stations across Canada.

Counc. Pete Pearson was on the same page.

“For taxpayers to charge other people’s vehicles I don’t support it,” he said.

Counc. Donnie MacLean said she would support it if there was a way for people to pay.

During the debate there was no mention of the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.

Chief Administrative Officer Wayne Robinson explained the electricity costs are so small that installing a device to allow people to pay would make the project much more expensive.

“We could never recoup the cost of the subscription system,” he said.

Pearson asked if they could charge more to make it viable, perhaps a dollar per hour of charging.

Robinson said a prudent approach would be to factor in replacement cost over the long term.

“It would require some interesting math to figure out what would work,” he said.

Robinson confirmed BC Hydro is still planning on installing a level 3 charging station at no cost to the municipality.

Ultimately the report was shelved.

“I move that this report be received and filed,” said Pearson.

 

Another perspective

President of the Community Energy Association Dale Littlejohn said many small northern towns are excited about introducing charging stations because of the economic potential.

“These charging stations put communities on the map. When electric vehicle owners plan their summer vacation they look at the map,” he said. “It is making it easier and more inviting for EV (electric vehicle) tourists to come through, charge up and spend some time in your community. This is where the real value is with these charging stations.”

Littlejohn said Valemount is a critical place for charging infrastructure and could stand to gain like communities in the Kootenays and the Northern US have.

“Valemount is in a very strategic situation on the highway creating that Alberta-BC connection to facilitate interprovincial travel,” he said.

Littlejohn said that after deploying an EV charging network in the southern Kootenays from the US border to Golden, economic development associations in Alberta quickly followed suit.

“A lack of charging stations holds back adoption of electric cars,” he said. “This is one part of overcoming that.”

Littlejohn said that electric cars have been shown to be better for the environment.

“Even on a coal-based grid like Alberta, EVs come out ahead overall. The vast impact is not in the manufacturing, it is in the use. They save greenhouse gas emissions. It more than offsets additional impact from manufacturing process.”

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