Brian Lutz has seen his fuel bills go from $100 a fill to $5 a fill since buying a used Tesla about three years ago.
Using the Level 2 charging station he installed at his Rupert home, Lutz said he’s recorded an overall savings of $16,800 a year.
The proud electric vehicle owner wants others to join him in making the switch, though he admits the lack of fast charging infrastructure in northern B.C. can be difficult.
“I’ll drive from here to Terrace, which is 168 km. If I charge on a Level 2 charger it’ll take me five hours,” Lutz said, adding that charging times increase for trips that continue to Smithers or Prince George.
On March 12, Prince Rupert city council approved Mayor Lee Brain’s resolution to join the Charge North program, a community-led initiative of the Electric Vehicle Highway 16-97 Advisory Council.
By participating in Charge North, Prince Rupert will need to purchase two Level 2 charging stations.
The North Coast Regional District is leading the charge, and discussion about the program continued at the district’s March 22 regular meeting.
According to district corporate officer Daniel Fish, the participating communities have been asked to identify tourist-oriented locations for their charging stations.
“The Level 2 doesn’t provide that super-fast charge, so [to place a charger] somewhere they can plug in for about an hour and then walk out and view some of the communities,” Fish said.
Lutz said he’s been engaging northern councils in hopes that they’ll install Level 3 chargers instead, or at least high amperage Level 2s.
“We need to see Level 3 [charging stations] to take those times down to realistic driving times,” Lutz said. “To drive an hour-and-a-half to have to stop for five hours is just not making anyone make the change.”
BC Hydro community relations representative Dave Mosure told the Northern View that Level 3 charging stations could come to Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii as part of an upcoming fourth phase of their provincial project.
Mosure said the fourth phase will include communities from Burns Lake up to Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii, but “it’s really early yet.”
Currently, he said BC Hydro is focused on phase three of the project, the stretch from 100 Mile House up to Prince George.
BC Hydro has agreements in place with those communities and Mosure said station installation should start this summer.
The first step for phase four will be reaching out to the northern communities, he said, which means a conference call including city mayors, administrators and technical staff.
Mosure said the communities will be asked to provide two or three options for station location, which BC Hydro will compare to existing infrastructure. Then, agreements will be signed.
“Prince Rupert is definitely part of the conversation” when it comes to Level 3 charging stations, he said.
“I think we’re going to see one or two Levels 3s within each community, but what’s it going to look like with round one taking place, I don’t know yet.”
Mosure wasn’t able to provide a specific timeline for the phase four conference call, but estimated that the call will take place within the next 30 to 60 days.
Lutz said he is aware of the phased province-wide roll out of Level 3 charging stations, but lamented: “As always in the north we’re last on the list.”