BC Hydro has announced the installation of a second fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) unit at the Pacific Rim Visitor Centre. The centre was originally built in 2018 with one charging unit. The second was installed in December of 2022.
The site, which was funded as part of a collaboration between BC Hydro, the provincial government, and Natural Resources Canada, is one of 81 sites with 133 units across British Columbia, operated by BC Hydro. Including privately operated charging sites, there are now nearly 20 in the Tofino-Ucluelet area alone.
According to BC Hydro, each unit can add 50 kilometres of range to an electric vehicle in approximately 10 minutes. In a press release, their President and CEO Chris O’Riley pledged to continue expanding the network of fast chargers across the province.
“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. BC Hydro will add 325 charging units to its network at 145 sites within the next five years.”
A common criticism of electric vehicles is that they may struggle to reach places like Tofino and Ucluelet. This could be due to a lower range than gas-powered vehicles, or because they have a tendency to lose range in colder weather, as the battery powering the vehicle also has to create heat for the passengers. A 2022 study by ConsumerReports.com found that cold weather can sap as much as 25 per cent of an electric vehicle's range.
Just hearing that could scare off a consumer, but for Vancouver Islanders it may not need to. According to that same study, the greatest losses were seen at temperatures below -8 degrees Celsius. Discover Vancouver Island lists an average coldest temperature for the entire island as -3.
And the technology behind powering electric vehicles is improving greatly year after year. The average range of EVs has grown from 219 kilometres in 2013 to 386 in 2019, according to a report by the Canada Energy Regulator.
Combined with the ever-expanding network of fast chargers being installed by BC Hydro, the utility hopes it will not be an issue for most drivers.
“We're putting in chargers throughout the province. They are fast chargers so people can utilize the fast-charging network. There's a myriad of level two charger in communities,” says Ted Olynyk for BC Hydro.
The thing to remember is that like everything, it’s important to plan ahead, says Olynyk.
“You can go from Tofino to Alberta with little problem. Of course, like everything, you want to make sure that you plan your trip properly. Why you'd want to leave Tofino and go to Alberta, that's another issue.”