Charge up at no charge

Time limit a drawback, says one EV owner

After some initial confusion, signs are now in place and rules are set for use of the electric vehicle charging stations at Oak Bay municipal hall.

Parking spots with the charging stations are open to all vehicles, but at a 30-minute maximum. The idea is that the stations can be used to “top off” an electric vehicle while the owner attends to business in Oak Bay. The stations, which are free, are not intended to be used as a long-term charging location.

Starting in late April, drivers will be able to use a credit card to activate one of the two 240 volt or one 110 volt charging outlets, but with no cost incurred. Until then, drivers need to go into the municipal hall to pick up a special card to use the outlets.

Drivers may be asked to give district staff information to help the municipality improve service in the future.

James Strickland, a resident who owns an electric vehicle and wrote a letter published in the News Wednesday with concerns over the charging station rules, said the improved clarity is good but a longer charging time would make a larger impact.

“If I was going there for half an hour it could be useful but it doesn’t really change very much,” Strickland said. “I think it’s good to have more charging stations, but personally, I don’t think it makes a big difference.”

For most vehicles, Strickland said, 30 minutes will equal about 15 kilometres of range. Some vehicles will get double that. As most drivers charge their cars overnight, a “top-up” isn’t that advantageous.

What would be more useful is being able to get a full charge at a location far enough away from home that you will need it to get back, Strickland said.

For instance, a driver visiting Oak Bay from up Island would find a long term charge helpful, and a draw to that location, but 30 minutes is too short a time for a worthwhile charge.