Victoria to pursue grants for electric charging stations

Financial details around stations still to be ironed out

As of today (May 30), a $2.74-million pot of provincial money becomes available for communities to install charging stations for electric vehicles.

While the offer of a 75-per-cent rebate won council’s support, members did have some concerns.

“I certainly want to provide incentives to encourage use,” said Coun. Ben Isitt.

He didn’t support the idea, however, of providing the service free of charge, a scenario implied in the information provided to councillors last week. “I can support this on condition that they have a payment (system).”

Ismo Husu, Victoria’s manager of parking services, brought the opportunity to council’s energy and infrastructure standing committee on Thursday.

“This could be looked at as somewhat of a pilot,” Husu said. “There is going to be potential for this to be expanded in a significant way in future.”

There are still a lot of things up in the air, he added. Remaining questions include the cost to the city and where to place the stations.

While the provincial grant targets Level 2 charging stations, which can recharge a car in two or four hours, Husu questioned whether a less-powerful station would be adequate for the city’s needs.

“How fast do we need to charge somebody’s else’s car?” he asked.

The committee voted to direct staff to pursue the grant, but also to research user-pay options.

While they discussed coin-operated or credit-card swipe stations, these possibilities could be thwarted by the fact that under law, only B.C. Hydro can sell electricity.

It’s a situation that Colwood wrestled with recently.

In February, the West Shore municipality approved the installation of three electric-vehicle charging stations.

One option considered was recouping electricity costs by charging for the parking space rather than the electricity.

Colwood Coun. Judith Cullington, however, had a reservation with this plan.

“It would probably cost more to put in infrastructure to charge a fee than we’d get back in fees,” she said at the time.

– with files from the Goldstream Gazette.

rholmen@vicnews.com