Big boost in electric vehicle charging sessions could give B.C. retailers a positive jolt

Electric vehicle charging sessions have more than doubled in B.C. in the past year

Charging station in Squamish | Photo: submitted

With his electric car running low on power, Jeff Turner pulled into a mall parking lot to recharge his vehicle at a public station earlier this year.

“I found myself buying a $30 sweater I didn’t even think I needed,” said the project engineer at BC Hydro subsidiary Powertech Labs.

“I had a chat with the manager of the store and he said this is not the first time this has happened.”

A substantial increase in usage of electric vehicles (EV) has the potential to create economic spinoffs that go beyond using made-in-B.C. electricity, Turner said.

EV charging sessions have more than doubled at public recharge stations in B.C. since August 2013, according to data released Monday (October 6) by Powertech Labs.

Powertech tracks charging data at 350 out of the 550 public charging stations in B.C.

It found there were 3,745 charging sessions in August 2014 — a jump of 120% compared with the same period a year prior, when 1,684 recharging sessions were recorded.

“Anyone who’s looking at hosting a charging station, they can look at the numbers that we’re showing here and just get a feel for what kind of an impact that might have on their business,” Turner said.

“We’ve got some stations that are upwards of 20 charge events a week and so a restaurant owner or somebody running a mall can look at those numbers and think of 20 EV drivers a week who coming in and actually have an incentive to stick around a little while, while their vehicle charges up.”

In 2011, Powertech Labs partnered with the Fraser Basin Council to help make a push for more EV charging stations across the province as part of the Plug in BC initiative.

Jim Vanderwal, senior program manager at the Fraser Basin Council, said data from the charging stations shows the busiest activities appears to be centred around shopping centres — both in urban and rural parts of B.C.

“We know of businesses that are paying their own way and installing (recharging stations) for business reasons,” he said, “and so hopefully this (new data) helps them to get a better sense of the places that make sense from a business point of view if they’re looking to attract customers.”

The data is open to the public and can be viewed at evCloud .