Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Sun Peaks are providing important infrastructure for visitors and residents who don’t have access to private charging on the mountain.
Shane Bourke, chief administrative officer for Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) said that since the chargers were installed late last year, they’ve been used 80 different times by 43 different vehicles. The busiest period was the week of Jan. 30, which saw users plug in 17 times.
Charging stations have been a goal for the municipality since 2015, and the two type-two EV charging stations are located on the east side of the Sun Peaks Centre skating rink.
Ryan Kononoff and his family have a home in Sun Peaks, and he said they used the public stations while visiting.
Kononoff said for people like him who own strata properties, there is a lot of chaos around charging in stratas.
He explained EV drivers have paid to install electric chargers in their parking stall and pay for the electricity use themself, tracking use through an excel file that connects to the charger. However, Kononoff pointed out that there is nothing stopping other people from using a charger that doesn’t belong to them.
“They did pay for the installation of [an EV charger], but there’s no way for them to necessarily prevent someone from adjacent stalls using that same charger,” he said.
Tracking use from private charging stations also creates additional administrative overhead in strata properties, which is then charged back to all owners, according to Kononoff.
Kononoff sits on a strata council in Sun Peaks, and said how to handle electric vehicle charging as the number of EVs grows has been a frequent topic of conversation.
There are common outlets that people use to plug in their electric vehicles, meaning neighbours who don’t own EVs still have to pay for someone else’s electricity use through strata fees.
“People that don’t drive electric cars pay strata fees, and it’s like having a gas tank up there … Everyone pays for [electricity but] not everyone pulls from it. It’s an area of contention and chaos,” he said.
He went on to say that some people experience “range anxiety” around access to charging stations. Some EV drivers worry they won’t be able to get up to Sun Peaks and back home without an available charging station. While Kononoff doesn’t share the feeling himself, he believes there are likely people who choose to not drive their EVs to the mountain because of this fear.
Sun Peaks EV charging stations cost $1 per hour for the first four hours and $2 per hour for any subsequent use. The fees offset the cost of electricity use for the municipality and increase after four hours because there are only two stations for many users. The stations were funded by a federal grant in partnership with the Community Energy Association.
Kononoff thinks the fee for charging in Sun Peaks is reasonable.
“A buck an hour will cover [the municipality’s] electricity costs. And two bucks an hour after four hours will encourage people to use it on a short-term basis, not on a long-term basis. So I think that the way they’ve got it set up now is very, very reasonable.”
The current charging stations operate on a 30-amp breaker, which charges at a slower speed. However, according to Bourke, the municipality is waiting on 40 amp breakers due to a national shortage and they should arrive this spring.
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