Tammy Kosolofski charges her 2012 Chevrolet Volt at the newly opened charging station near municipal hall. The station was officially unveiled on Friday afternoon.

Power free at Summerland charging stations

Electrical car owners will not have to pay to charge their vehicles at the charging stations, at least for a six-month trial period.

Electrical car owners will not have to pay to charge their vehicles at the municipality’s electrical vehicle charging stations, at least for a six-month trial period.

“If we really want to reduce greenhouse gases, a serious promotion of alternative forms of transportation is required,” said Mayor Janice Perrino. “Allowing electric vehicles to fill up for free would provide an incentive for local residents to acquire an electric vehicle.”

On Friday, the municipality unveiled its electric vehicle charging stations. The three stations were installed as a provincial funding incentive.

One of the stations is in the parking lot at municipal hall, another is on Kelly Avenue at the edge of Memorial Park and the third is in the parking lot on Victoria Road North.

Julie McGuire, climate action coordinator for the municipality, said the stations are part of a $2.7-million province-wide initiative to set up 454 stations throughout British Columbia.

The stations came online for public use on March 27 and already some electric vehicle owners have been using them.

The stations include technology which allows the municipality to monitor their use and to charge users on a per session or per hour basis.

The municipality is also installing 120-volt plugs beside the kiosks in order to charge electric scooters, electric bikes and golf carts.

Municipal planner Ian McIntosh said the cost of charging an electric car ranges from 48 cents to $2.28 while the cost of charging an electric scooter is estimated at around 10 cents.

If the stations were used steadily 10 hours a day, the power required would cost the municipality $6 a day.

If metering units were added to the 120-volt plugs beside the charging kiosks, McIntosh said they would require 10,000 paid charges in order to recoup the costs of the metering devices.

Because the cost of supplying power is low, council members voted to allow free charging, at least for the present.

“I don’t see why we should quibble over a few dollars,” said Coun. Lloyd Christopherson.

“This is an opportunity for Summerland to lead the way in terms of our green footprint,” added Coun. Peter Waterman.

Coun. Bruce Hallquist said the charging stations could also be used when golf carts are allowed on the roads in Summerland, a concept he has long advocated.

In other communities in B.C., electric vehicle charging station rates vary widely.

In Osoyoos, no fee is charged. At charging stations in place at Okanagan College campuses, there is a parking fee of $1 an hour, but no additional cost to use the charging stations. In Chilliwack, a station charges 50 cents an hour while at the Coquitlam Centre Mall, the station charges $1 an hour.