City of Powell River Council votes for fees to charge electric vehicles

Cost for using city stations will be two dollars an hour

City of Powell River has moved one step closer to charging a fee for use of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at city facilities.

At the city council meeting on Thursday, January 16, councillors voted that staff be directed to prepare a fee bylaw amendment to establish a user fee of $2 per hour for city-owned vehicle charging stations.

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During discussion on the initiative, councillor CaroleAnn Leishman said she received an email from a councillor in Coquitlam who read an article on this issue in Powell River and commended council for leadership in getting in front of it. Leishman said a lack of available charging stations is a big problem, especially in the Lower Mainland.

Leishman said a pilot project has been started in Coquitlam with a two-tiered rate structure for charging electric vehicles. People charging their electric vehicles are charged $1 per hour for the first two hours, then the fee goes up to $5 an hour.

Leishman said according to city sustainability planner Ana Lukyanova, Powell River charging stations are not set up to do two-tiered charges, but they could potentially be changed down the road.

“Anyone I’ve talked to with an electric vehicle is very supportive of the charge of two dollars,” said Leishman.

Council voted unanimously to send the matter to staff for a fee bylaw amendment.

According to a staff report from Lukyanova, the city installed its first electric vehicle charging stations at city hall and the north boat harbour parking lot in 2016. In 2018, additional chargers were added at Powell River Public Library and Powell River Recreation Complex. To date, charging of electric vehicles has been free to the public.

Lukyanova stated that since 2016, use of the stations has grown exponentially.

“It has been observed by staff that users often leave their vehicles plugged in for longer than they need to charge, limiting access for other users,” stated Lukyanova. "This is becoming a problem as the stations get more and more use. To address this, staff recommend introducing an hourly fee for EV charging to improve availability as the demand grows.”

According to Lukyanova’s report, looking at the time vehicles were plugged in, and comparing it to the time vehicles were charging, in 2019, vehicles were plugged in without charging about 30 per cent of the time.

“This means vehicles are being left plugged in after they are fully charged, limiting access to charging for other users,” stated Lukyanova. “Because charging is currently free, there is no incentive for EV owners to vacate the station. Staff have been in conversation with the EV charging station service provider, FLO, and their recommendation was to introduce an hourly charge to incentivize users to only use the station for as long as they need to charge their vehicle.”

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