Coquitlam approves fees for electric vehicle charging stations

Cost of using public facility will jump after two hours to 'motivate the turnover of users,' according to a staff report.

The city of Coquitlam wants electric vehicle owners to take advantage of two new municipal charging stations — but they don’t want drivers lingering all day.

New charging fees approved by council Monday will see users pay $1 per hour for the first two hours followed by $5 for each additional hour after that. The sharp increase in the fee structure will help “motivate the turnover of users,” according to a city staff report. 

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Coun. Craig Hodge, an electric vehicle owner, said cars parked at stations after they have been fully charged is one of the “frustrations” of electric vehicle ownership.

“Quite often when I show up the station is not available because the cars are parked there,” he said during Monday night’s council meeting. Increasing the cost after two hours “encourages people to move on.”

Mayor Richard Stewart, who also owns an electric car, said he would be in favour of a system that had a more gradual increase so that people who are inadvertently held up do not get penalized. Council voted unanimously in favour of the amendment to the fees and charges bylaw. 

Staff said they will closely monitor charging station usage and would likely report back to council within six months of the launch of the program, which is expected this summer. 

In January, council approved installing an electric vehicle charging station at the Poirier Sport and Leisure Complex and converting an existing station at city hall to public use.

Jozsef Dioszeghy, Coquitlam’s general manager of public works, said at the time that staff looked at several options for fee structures. However, after talking with electric vehicle owners, he said they determined it was unlikely anything over a dollar would attract users because it only costs about 80 cents an hour for residents to recharge. They would rather park in the free stalls than pay to charge, he added. 

Installation of the new charging stations is expected to cost $20,000 each. The city estimates the annual operating cost for the public charging stations will be $8,000, but will bring in a net revenue of $4,000 with the dollar an hour charge. 

Each charging station is capable of accommodating two vehicles simultaneously. The existing public charger at city hall, shared between the public and the city’s EV fleet, had 2,100 free charging sessions logged last year. 

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