ENERGY-BASED RATES FOR FORTISBC's EV FAST CHARGING SERVICE

20 February 2024

by Tom Hackney and Bill Andrews

FortisBC’s electricity utility in south central BC has recently applied to the BC Utilities Commission to change its billing for EV charging services from $/minute to $/kWh. 

This follows strong pressure by the Commission in its decision on FortisBC’s 2021 application for EV charging rates. In that decision, the BCUC noted numerous letters from the public to the effect that $/kWh billing is fairer than $/minute billing. The Commission concluded that $/minute billing was “discriminatory” and undesirable. 

Nevertheless, the BCUC grudgingly approved FortisBC’s proposed $/minute rates because Fortis, like all Canadian providers of EV public charging service, was prohibited by Measurement Canada from billing on a $/kWh basis. (See BCSEA article: Public Fast Charging Rates: Cents/kWh v. Cents/Minute). 

In the 2021 decision, the BCUC directed FortisBC to apply to Measurement Canada for a “temporary dispensation” to use uncertified meters for $/kWh billing.

In its current application, FortisBC says it has applied to Measurement Canada for a temporary dispensation and expects to receive it early in 2024. FortisBC proposes a rate of $0.42/kWh, for both its 50 kW chargers and its 100 kW chargers. The proposed rate is slightly higher than the $0.34/kWh that BC Hydro recently applied for (no BCUC decision yet). However, Fortis’s proposed energy-based rate is generally in line with the energy-based rates charged by non-utility providers of public charging service, such as Tesla, Shell, Charger Quest and Couche Tard/Circle K.

FortisBC’s proposed energy-based rate is calculated to recover from EV drivers all of Fortis’s costs for providing the service over a ten year period ending in 2033. In other words, if the expected numbers of EV drivers use FortisBC’s charging services, there will be no cross-subsidy between EV drivers and FortisBC’s other customers.

BCSEA is intervening in the proceeding, jointly with the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association. BCSEA is optimistic that FortisBC is going in the right direction with its EV charging program. In the proceeding, BCSEA is looking at whether FortisBC has budgeted appropriately for the costs to upgrade existing chargers to the NACS standard for connectors, for installation of revenue grade DCFC meters when they are eventually approved by Measurement Canada, and for replacing end-of-life charging stations with higher powered stations in response to customer expectations.