British Columbia to get Canada's first electric car fast-charging network

British Columbia's electric utility says it will install electric car fast chargers to expand the West Coast green highway in Oregon and Washington. 

Tyrone Siu/Reuters/File
A sign is painted on a parking space for electric cars inside a car park in Hong Kong.

The West Coast "green highway" will expand from Oregon and Washington states into British Columbia, under a plan announced today that will site DC quick-charging stations for electric cars along heavy-traveled roads and at popular destinations.

BC Hydro, the province's electric utility, said it will install 13 DC fast chargers, made by both ABB and Eaton, in greater Vancouver, in the Fraser Valley, along the so-called "Sea to Sky Corridor," on Vancouver Island, and in Kamloops.

The fast-charging stations will be leased to local governments in each location.

The complete network will be managed by GreenLots, a San Francisco company whose Sky network provides open access to electric-car charging equipment and networks via smartphone app or credit cards without requiring prior registration, subscriptions, or access fobs. 

BC Hydro has not yet decided whether it will levy a payment for electric-car recharging.

The provincial government of British Columbia announced last January that it would fund the DC Fast Charger Project, anticipating the need for electric-car drivers to travel beyond the ranges of their cars in future years.

Today, BC has roughly 700 electric cars, but according to a report in the Globe & Mail, BC Hydro's chief technology officer Kip Morrison projects that the number will grow to 50,000 within 10 years.

The DC fast-charger equipment installed in BC will likely launch with the CHAdeMO charging protocol now used by the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

But the locations will offer the ability to add fast charging with the new Combined Charging Standard (CCS) standard as cars with that capability enter the market from Chevrolet, BMW, and other U.S. and German makers.

In addition to the BC-Washington-Oregon corridor, which mixes DC fast-charging and simpler but slower 240-Volt Level 2 charging stations, Tesla Motors has set up its own West Coast charging network exclusively for owners of its Model S electric luxury sedan.

Last Saturday, the company opened the last of its Supercharger charging sites in a West Coast network that allows Model S drivers to travel from San Diego to Vancouver.

Such "electric highway" networks will likely evolve to connect city pairs or clusters inlocations where plug-in electric cars are popular.

The West Coast is clearly one; cities in Texas are now connected via the evGo network, and the Boston-New York-Washington metroplex is a likely future candidate for connection, as is the greater Atlanta area.

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