Penticton council making plans for city to be electric-car friendly

Council pro-electric cars

Penticton council made a couple of decisions regarding electric vehicles at Tuesday's meeting, all with an eye toward encouraging the cleaner form of transportation. 

Council voted unanimously to support a grant application to the Clean BC Community Fund to purchase and install four Direct Current Fast Charger stations, two at the SS Sicamous and one each at City Hall and Skaha Lake Park. 

If the application is successful, the city will cover $78,132 with the rest of the $292,960 price tag coming from Clean BC. 

"I think this is a giant step in the right direction, it couldn't come soon enough for my liking," Coun. Katie Robinson said. 

Council also discussed changes to existing electric vehicle station usage fees. Currently, the city owns four Level II charging stations at the former Greyhound Bus Depot, which have been free to use since their installation. 

The total cost to the city to offer free electricity is approximately $1,758, based on current usage; that includes roughly 1,275 hours per station per year and an average charge time per vehicle of three hours. 

In a report to council, staff explained that a charge of $2 per hour would be in line with charging fees in other cities in British Columbia, and would allow them to recuperate costs and generate a small amount of revenue. 

While Coun. Katie Robinson initially expressed concern that charging might turn people off using electric vehicles, she was swayed by Coun. Campbell Watt's argument that a little bit of revenue might help the city start a fund for even more charging stations in the future, and "quite frankly, $2 is not that much." 

Coun. Julius Bloomfield agreed. 

"We've had a period of free use, which I greatly appreciate for helping stimulate the interest for electric vehicles which I think is here. At some point we'll have to take a stand of at least cost-recovery," Bloomfield said. "I think people are going to buy them whether we offer free charging or not." 

Council voted to adopt the recommended $2 per hour for the Level II charging stations. The new Direct Current Fast Charger stations, if the grant comes through, would require a different bylaw to determine their hourly rate when installed, as they are faster chargers and therefore use more power per hour. 

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