The city of Kelowna will have four new DC Fast Charge electric vehicle charging stations installed later this spring. One will be installed at the museum, another at Rutland Centennial Park and two at Kelowna International Airport.
“Transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Kelowna,” sustainability co-ordinator Tracy Guidi said during Monday’s city council meeting. “Switching to electric vehicles helps reduce emissions from this source.”
A recent study shows there is more than 18,000 electric vehicles on the roads and that number is expected to grow to more than 350,000 in just 11 years, Guidi said.
FortisBC approached staff in 2018 with an opportunity to expand the EV-charging network through a Natural Resources Canada grant that provides up to 50 per cent of the project’s total cost — estimated at $350,000, with no taxation effects. City staff has already put forward another application in mid-May to possibly fund another two fast chargers.
On top of the Electric Vehicle Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative grant, the province committed an additional 25 per cent to successful applicants and FortisBC offered to fund costs not covered by the grant — and provide ongoing maintenance and operation for two locations.
The City of Kelowna will be responsible for providing the land for the charging stations in both the museum parking lot and Rutland Centennial Park.
“This project supports the action to develop a community-wide EV strategy,” Guidi said. “It also delivers directly in line with two newly endorsed council priorities; environmental protection and transportation and mobility.”
FortisBC’s $9 per half-hour charge for electric vehicle owners, however, had Coun. Ryan Donn asking questions.
“It feels like it’s a lot more than market rates that I pay at my house, for example,” he said. “What’s the business case to sell it to the public then, if we’re going from free to $9? Why is it a good idea when every other level of government is giving incentives and we’re kind of charging more for it?”
The $9 fee covers the cost of service for FortisBC as the DC Fast Charge electric vehicle charging stations use more energy than the chargers already installed in city locations, staff explained.
“We recognize we still need to do the EV strategy,” Guidi said. “Part of it will have to figure out what direction the city wants to take and what role we want to play.”
“The market is changing significantly and we don’t know exactly where it’s going to go,” she said. “At this point in time, we’re just trying to help that along. There was an opportunity where there was a really minimal impact of cost on the city so it was a great opportunity to get involved in advance of doing the strategy.”
The EV strategy will be tackled by the recently hired community energy specialist over the next year.
“I think the next step is for us to have our strategy,” Coun. Donn said. “I think personally, it should be incentive driven to encourage that usage switch over… perhaps it is the role of the municipalities who are able to provide more of these electric charging stations and not all looking to make a profit on it.”