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No more free ride: BC Hydro charging drivers at EV stations

As of May 1, drivers using BC Hydro fast charging stations will have to pay to do so
Electric vehicle drivers who use BC Hydro fast charging stations, such as this one in Cache Creek which opened in July 2019, will now have to pay for their charging time. (Photo credit: Barbara Roden)

Drivers of electric vehicles (EVs) who use BC Hydro’s province-wide network of fast charging stations will now have to pay to do so.

As of May 1, the cost of using a fast charging station operated by BC Hydro will be 12 cents per minute for 25-kilowatt charging ($3.60 for 30 minutes) and 21 cents per minute for 50-kilowatt charging ($6.30 for 30 minutes). Individual stations will have signs indicating the pricing.

Drivers will not be able to use credit or debit cards at the stations. In order to pay for their charge, drivers will need to have downloaded the BC Hydro EV app or another app that is supported by the BC Hydro EV network.

An alternative is purchasing a BC Hydro EV RFID (radio-frequency identification) card and loading funds onto it. Drivers can also scan the QR code on the charging station sticker, which allows them to activate a charging session without the app or an RFID card.

However, drivers are being encouraged to also have an RFID card, for cases where they are unable to use the app or scan the QR code.

In June 2019 the B.C. Utilities Commission (BCUC) issued its Phase Two report on the regulation of EV charging services in B.C. It focused on the role of “non-exempt public utilities” such as BC Hydro and FortisBC in the EV charging service market, and one of the questions was how exempt EV charging service provicers could be protected from being undercut by non-exempt public utilities such as BC Hydro, which until now have not charged for the service.

Another question was whether other customers of non-exempt public utilities should subsidize the costs associated with providing EV charging services to drivers. The BCUC ultimately recommended to the provincial government that non-exempt public utilities like BC Hydro should develop a separate rate and tariff for EV charging services.

BC Hydro says that the collected revenue from users will cover at least the cost of electricity and a portion of the station installation and maintenance costs, which will reduce the share of subsidized costs for the infrastructure by all ratepayers. The rates being charged by BC Hydro are comparable to the rates for charging infrastructure operated by FortisBC, Hydro Quebec, Petro-Canada, Electrify Canada, and Tesla.

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