The use of public electric car chargers in Langley Township has gone up dramatically – more than 3,000 per cent in the past five years.
In 2013, the first year the Township installed electric car charging stations, there were 294 charges in total.
In 2018, it was up to 9,654.
“That’s partially because we have more charging stations,” said Tanya Drouillard, a sustainability programs specialist with the Township.
But the other reason is a big increase in electric cars in the Township.
There are currently 15 public charging stations in the Township, and two in Langley City. Both City and Township also have chargers for the electric vehicles in their own fleets.
The City’s charger is in City Hall’s underground parking.
The stations in the Township are all located at public facilities, including Walnut Grove Community Centre, W.C. Blair, the Langley Events Centre, the Aldergrove Credit Union Community Centre, and the Township Civic Facility.
In 2019, the plan is to install another level two charger at the George Preston Recreation Centre.
“It’s our last recreation centre that doesn’t have a charging station,” said Drouillard.
One other reason the charging stations are popular right now – they’re free to use. The cost doesn’t even come off the car owner’s electrical bill at home, which is where many electric car owners charge their vehicles.
If there is a downside to charging an electrical car compared to using a gas-powered vehicle, it may be time.
There is only one fast charger hosted by the Township, at the Langley Events Centre. Owned and operated by BC Hydro, it can charge a car’s battery up to 80 per cent full charge in between 20 and 40 minutes, depending on the size of the battery and type of vehicle.
The other chargers, Type 2 chargers, take three to four hours to get an 80 per cent charge, Drouillard said.
The Township is also adding electrical vehicles to its civic fleet. The Township fleet includes everything from cars used by bylaw officers to dump trucks and snow plows.
So far, there are two all-electric vehicles in the fleet – a Nissan Leaf and a Mitsubishi i-MiEV – and four Honda Civic hybrids.
The Township is currently working on a plan finalized in 2016 which calls for half its passenger fleet to be electric by the year 2026. That won’t include the large work trucks, because there aren’t battery powered alternatives for vehicles like that yet.
However, the Township is currently working on an update to its electric vehicle strategy. The new plan will look at charging infrastructure, community partnerships, and the Township’s electric vehicle fleet.
The Township is also working on a tool to help determine exactly how much a given vehicle costs.
“We know the business case is becoming stronger and stronger for electric vehicles,” said Drouillard.
But how strong is it? Buying a car for a business or government fleet isn’t just a matter of the up front cost. There is the cost of fuel and servicing as well.
While electric vehicles cost more, they are much cheaper to fuel over time. The new tool is expected to help clarify the business case for when vehicles should be replaced.
“We’ve seen a lot of price drops over the years,” noted Drouillard. Electric vehicles are getting cheaper as their ranges expand to be closer to those of conventional gas engines.
One reason why Langley Township, the City, and other municipalities have set up electrical charging stations is that it was literally illegal for businesses to do so until recently.
The BC Utilities Commission had a rule that made it illegal for a third party to sell electrical charging services. Municipal governments were exempt, and people could charge up at home, but that was it.
On March 22, the Commission created an exemption, which means that private companies can start selling – or giving away – electrical charging services for cars and other vehicles.
Total number of charging sessions per year in Langley Township:
2013 – 294
2014 – 1,126
2015 – 1,659
2016 – 3,247
2017 – 5,613
2018 – 9,654