Summerland’s electric vehicle charging stations have been seeing a lot of use over the past year.
Tami Rothery, Summerland’s sustainability/alternative energy coordinator, said from Jan. 1 to Sept. 15, 2020, there were 730 sessions at the municipality’s charging stations.
One station is in the parking lot near the post office and another is near Summerland’s municipal hall.
A third station, near Memorial Park, has not been in service since May.
By comparison, for all of 2019, there were 1,100 charging sessions in the community and in 2018, there were 740 sessions.
“They’re very popular,” Rothery said of the stations. “All of the stations are heavily used.”
The three charging stations were installed in April 2013, and each year they have seen a significant increase in use.
This year, another 22 charging stations are being added to the community. The project is being funded by the federal and provincial governments.
Two of these stations will be fast-charging stations.
Natural Resources Canada’s $380,000 investment is being matched by a $150,000 contribution by the province as part of B.C.’s bid to see electric car sales in the province completely replace the sale of gas-burning vehicles by 2040.
At present, there is no fee for those charging their electric vehicles at the stations.
Summerland’s municipal council will evaluate whether to charge a fee for the charging stations at an upcoming council meeting.
There is some objection to the charging stations. Ron Kubek, president of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce, recently raised concerns about the charging stations as well as the community’s recently approved solar project.
In a personal message to chamber members, Kubek said the initiatives could be what he calls “fiscal Trojan horses.”
“The two aforementioned projects are seen by many, if not the vast majority of taxpayers, as projects that in the end will cost the district way more than it gets back,” his message stated.
“After the installation, the district is responsible for the ongoing maintenance, repairs and replacement. The gift horse may be very expensive to feed and stable.”
Rothery said the municipality spent close to $1,200 last year to provide the electricity for these stations.
However, she added that the stations also brought around 400 out-of-town electric visitors to the community. During their time charging their vehicles, they were able to spend time and money in downtown.
“Driving people into our community is exactly the value of the stations,” she said.
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