FortisBC announced this week that its electric direct current fast-charge network in British Columbia’s Southern Interior has reached a new milestone, exceeding 30,000 charging events to date.
As governments look to push EVs on consumers as part of a broader battle against emissions pollution, many British Columbians know that our province—with steep mountain passes and long, winding roads dividing many cities and regions—is ill-suited for the current generation of electric vehicles and their limited battery range in non-ideal conditions.
It is no small task to eliminate “range anxiety” for EV drivers in semi-rural and rural BC (which is the vast majority of the province, at least in terms of geography) but nonetheless FortisBC is taking on the challenge.
The regulated Canadian utility first started exploring EV charging infrastructure in BC in 2015 and has worked with numerous partners, including those with the Community Energy Association’s Accelerate Kootenays project, the Osoyoos Indian Band, as well as a number of local municipalities, to build a network of fast-charging stations.
Since opening its first public charging station in 2018, usage across FortisBC’s network has “increased significantly,” according to a recent statement from the firm—almost doubling the number of charging events each year.
In 2022 alone, the network cracked 13,000 charging events, compared to 7,000 charging events in 2021, FortisBC noted.
“It’s encouraging to see the amount of growth across our EV fast charging network in such a short period of time,” said George Thompson, EV infrastructure and investment manager for FortisBC. “Investing in low-carbon transportation is a key part of FortisBC’s strategy to help reduce customers’ emissions, so we’re thrilled our EV charging network is performing so well.”
With support from Natural Resources Canada’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program and the Province’s CleanBC Go Electric, FortisBC’s EV network has expanded over the past three years with the addition of 12 new charging stations since 2021, including its first high-powered 100 kilowatt chargers.
The addition of these higher-powered 100kW chargers will help better serve new vehicles coming to market with larger batteries and higher supported charge rates, the company said.
FortisBC’s network now includes 42 DCFC stations across 22 charging sites throughout communities in BC’s Southern Interior, with a majority of the stations along major highway corridors to facilitate highway travel through the region.
“More residents and visitors in the Southern Interior are transitioning to EVs so it’s essential that charging stations are available to provide quick, convenient and reliable EV charging, allowing drivers to travel through the region with confidence,” said Thompson.
British Columbians are among the highest adopters of Zero Emission Vehicles in North America, with approximately 18% of new light-duty vehicle sales in 2022 being EVs. More than 85,000 light-duty EVs were registered in BC in last year, up from 5,000 in 2016.
There are now more than 3,000 public charging stations in BC, including 750 fast-charging stations.
“As British Columbians are switching to electric vehicles at record speed, we continue to expand our network of electric charging stations and accelerate toward our CleanBC goal of completing B.C.’s electric highway by 2024 with our rebate programs,” Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, stated in October.
The province wants the opposite of range anxiety: it’s building an Electric Highway.
“We’re building a cleaner, better future for people with more fast-charging stations for electric vehicles in communities throughout the province,” added George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Beyond an Electric Highway, the Southern Interior region of BC is also looking to transform housing through artificial intelligence.
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