Vancouver to set fees for electric car charging

The City of Vancouver is introducing a pilot program to set fees for charging stations as more electric cars hit the road.

Fees start at $2 per hour for 16 city-owned charge stations

The City of Vancouver is looking at introducing fees at electric vehicle charging stations. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

An electric vehicle pilot program set to be introduced in Vancouver could be a jolt in the wallet for drivers of battery-powered cars.

Two programs will be presented to councillors Tuesday. The city says one program sets fees for electric vehicle charging stations, while the second aims to create more curbside stations for businesses and homeowners.

The report calls for fees at 16 charging stations, ranging from $2 per hour plus a regular parking rate for a slow charging method, to $16 per hour plus the meter rate for a fast charge.

A news release from the city says it would cost approximately twice as much to fill an efficient gasoline car of a similar size.

Use of electric vehicle charging stations has more than doubled in the past two years in Vancouver. The city says the stations where fees are being introduced had over 17,000 charging sessions last year.

Ian Neville, a climate policy analyst at the City of Vancouver, says one of the biggest challenges is congestion at the stations.

"We're seeing people stay at the stations about twice as long as they need to get to a full battery," he said.

The user fee will create turnover, he said, and prevent people from using the station as a de facto parking spot.

"Our goal is to make the stations available to people who need them .... There's a balance we're trying to strike between keeping costs low and making sure electric vehicles are attractive."

BC Hydro expects the number of electric vehicles in B.C. to increase to about 300,000 in less than 15 years, and Vancouver alone expects to see about 30,000 of the rechargeable cars.

The city says the pilot programs will continue for two years and the results will be reported back to council.

With files from The Early Edition