The Community Energy Assocation (CEA) envisions the faster Level 3 chargers as complementing the Level 2 units, whic are found in many smaller communities in the province. Burns Lake has applied to the CEA for a grant to replace the old charger with a new Level 2 machine. (Blair McBride photo)

Fast EV chargers to bypass Burns Lake

The Burns Lake village council’s bid to replace the local electric vehicle (EV) charge station will please most EV drivers, and leave some scratching their heads.

The council recently agreed to apply to the Community Energy Association (CEA) for a grant to install a new Level 2 EV charger. The grant is part of the CEA’s project “Electrifying Northern and Central BC for EV Travel”.

LOOK BACK: Electric vehicle charge station might be replaced

But some might ask, why replace the old unit with a Level 2 charger when a Level 3 can juice up the battery faster?

According to the ChargeHub informational website, Level 3s or Direct Current Faster Chargers (DCFC) can replenish an empty EV battery in 20 minutes to one hour. The Level 2 units take three to eight hours.

The CEA’s plan calls for a mixture of Level 2 and 3 charging units to be installed from Kamloops into the northern part of British Columbia.

The aim is for the different types of chargers to complement each other, as Janice Keyes, CEA’s Senior Manager of Community Energy Engagement explained to Lakes District News.

“The fast charging stations are the ones that get you into the region. The Level 2 chargers are the way that communities can capture travelers and tourists. At Level 2s they’re charging for four to six hours and people are spending more time in the communities. Fast charging stations they’re in and out in about 30 minutes.”

It’s up to BC Hydro and the the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to install the Level 3s, and CEA is working with them to determine the best spots for the Level 2s.

“Along Highway 97 and 5 are where the fast chargers are going. Between Kamloops and Prince George. Along Highway 5 they’ll go into the highway rest areas.”

As the Level 2s are being installed with some support from local governments, including Burns Lake which will contribute up to $5,000 to the grant, the cost of Level 3s – at $100,000 each – is beyond the capability of most of those governments, Keyes said.

“I’d like to emphasize the notion that it’s a community-led project. We’re facilitating projects on behalf of the regional districts and the municipalities. It’s not just about the infrastructure. There’s a good effort around community outreach and connecting with local [EV] dealerships as well.”

The CEA’s project is meant to work alongside the provincial government’s CleanBC plan, which among other goals requires all vehicles sold in the province to be zero-emission by 2040.

It also seeks to introduce incentive programs to lower the cost of EVs, to more than double the number of Level 3 units from 71 to 151 by 2030 and to provide local governments and First Nations with funding for Level 2 stations.

Blair McBride
Multimedia reporter
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