An electric vehicle using the BC Hydro charging station in Fraser Lake. (Submitted Photo)

New Fraser Lake electric vehicle charging site bridges gap along electric highway

The Fraser Lake site is one of three in the province that can accommodate large electric trucks and trailers because of its “pull-through” design

BC Hydro has added electric vehicle (EV) fast charging sites in northern B.C. with new units now operational in Fraser Lake, Houston and New Hazelton.

Fraser Lake CAO Rod Holland said the new charging station “completes the link” in a chain of chargers for owners of electric vehicles going west along Highway 16 on the way to Prince Rupert, Terrace or Kitimat.

“We have had people from other parts of the province, inquiring about the status of the charging station in Fraser Lake because they had travel plans to Terrace. So they couldn’t make those trips until the charging station was in place and operational,” Holland said.

The new charging station came at no cost to the community and Holland said local business has already benefited from travellers passing through, shopping and visiting local restaurants. “We are excited to have these chargers in the community and we are anticipating that it will positively impact our local economy for tourism.”

Transportation accounts for about 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in B.C. and the province is encouraging a switch from gas-powered cars to EVs. B.C. Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Bruce Ralston said the government is working to make it easier for drivers in the province to go electric.

READ MORE: Do heat pumps, electric vehicles make sense in northern B.C.?

Holland said with the price of gas the way it is, there’s some interest among residents who would otherwise not have considered electric vehicles as an option in the north. Reduced range and long charging times in the winter months are seen as downsides to EV ownership.

A 2019 study by the American Automobile Association found that if you use your electric vehicle’s heater while driving in cold weather, range can be temporarily cut by as much as 41 per cent.

“I’ve had at least a couple of people tell me that they’re going to consider one in the future when they replace their vehicle. Hopefully by then there will be more information out there about how well they function in the colder weather,” Holland said.

“My understanding is although it takes a lot longer to charge an electric vehicle than fuelling a gas vehicle it can be pennies on the dollar in comparison.”

Each new site includes two 50-kilowatt charging units and each unit can add 50 kilometres of driving to an average electric vehicle in about 10 minutes. The chargers are funded in a partnership with the Province of B.C. and Natural Resources Canada.

READ MORE: Canada’s new electric-vehicle registrations soar in 2021 but still lag behind Europe

The Fraser Lake site is one of three in the province that can accommodate large electric trucks and trailers because of its “pull-through” design. The other two are in Powell River and Lillooet.

BC Hydro’s EV charging network currently includes 110 fast charging units at 76 sites in communities around the province.

BC Hydro President and CEO Chris O’Riley promised that BC Hydro will add 325 charging units to its network at 145 sites within the next five years.

“As the primary fuel supplier for electric vehicles, we are building out charging infrastructure to ensure we can accommodate the volume and variety of electric vehicles that will be on B.C. roads in the coming years.”


 

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