BCSEA supports Off-Grid
EV Charging Stations

17 April 2024

by Bill Andrews and Tom Hackney

BCSEA joined with the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association in supporting BCUC approval of BC Hydro’s proposed expenditures to set up, own and operate five off-grid public fast EV charging stations at locations on Highways 37 and 97 in Northern BC en route to Yukon. 

Each project would involve a shipping container with two DC Fast Charging stations, propane electric generation and a propane tank. The facilities would be for public EV charging only; not for other loads. The rates for EV charging service would be the same as for EV charging service at other BC Hydro public EV charging sites. The rates were approved by the BCUC in March 2024, with support from BCSEA and VEVA (see our Policy Corner article). Funding for the off-grid public EV charging stations would come initially from CleanBC. If approved, the stations would be operational later in 2024.

In an 8 April 2024 letter of comment, BCSEA and VEVA supported the proposal because it would help fill the gaps in the availability of public EV fast charging services on remote highways in BC. In doing so, the proposed new off-grid public EV charging stations would enhance the uptake of EVs in the Province by reducing potential range anxiety by potential purchasers of EVs.

However, BCSEA and VEVA are acutely aware that these off-grid charging stations would use fossil-fuel propane to generate electricity. While propane generation may be the only practical way to have reliable stations operational within the current year, BCSEA and VEVA strongly urged BC Hydro to pursue zero-carbon electricity sources expeditiously. 

Station reliability is another key concern, particularly during the winter. EV drivers and their passengers will rely on these remote public charging sites being operational. BCSEA and VEVA identified specific safety measures, and called on BC Hydro to provide timely updates on the charger status on the BC Hydro EV app and apps such as PlugShare

BCSEA and VEVA also supported the off-grid public EV charging stations being accessible to persons with disabilities, no less than at the grid-connected BC Hydro public EV charging stations. The groups quoted the BCUC’s 2022 statement that, “accessibility for persons with disabilities is a core component of the quality of service provided by BC Hydro at its public EV fast charging sites. 

On the legal side, BCSEA and VEVA acknowledged that the proposed off-grid public EV charging stations are a “prescribed undertaking” under section 18 of the Clean Energy Act and section 5(2) of the GGRR. Accordingly, the BCUC must grant a CPCN for BC Hydro to construct and operate the proposed off-grid public EV charging stations.