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Electric vehicle charging surges in Richmond, but so do costs

A Richmond EV car advocate thinks chargers meant for the public should be faster.
The number of charging sessions rose in the first three months of 2022.

As EV charging demands go up, city staff is asking council to more than double the contract to the company managing EV chargers in Richmond.

City council approved a $1.5 million five-year contract for Foreseeson Technology to maintain the EV chargers, but now staff is recommending increasing the budget for the contract to $3.8 million.

This increased budget is needed because the amount of work required for electrical supply has “exceeded expectations” with the need for more public charging stations “growing at a faster pace than anticipated,” according to a city staff report.

But, instead of just installing chargers around the city, EV car advocate John Roston thinks the city should require existing strata buildings to install them, saying the lack of home charging options is the “biggest single obstacle” to accessing EV chargers.

“Richmond has done little to require charging in existing strata buildings,” he said.

Furthermore, he doesn’t think the chargers being installed around the city are “the right type of charging stations.”

He pointed out most of the 52 public chargers are level-two chargers that are good for home use – only three are level-three chargers.

“What we really need for public charging stations are level three,” he added.

The higher the charging level, the faster the charging speed.

Level two chargers are the most common and can be installed at home or in public locations. They can top off most EVs from empty within 4.5 hours. 

Level three chargers, also called “superchargers,” can recharge most EVs to at least 80 per cent capacity in about half an hour.

The city is expecting public charger usage to keep growing as COVID-19 restrictions ease and EV sales boom.

In fact, usage at public chargers in Richmond went up by 34 per cent in the first three months of 2022.

Currently, there are 75 EV chargers for public and city use in Richmond, and this will be increased to more than 130 over the next year.

However, Roston pointed out a large percentage of the charging stations are for city vehicle use, that is, 81 will be for city vehicles while 58 will be for the public.

“The main thing that people care about is the charging stations available to the public,” Roston said.

Currently, level two chargers charge $2 per hour for the first two hours and $5 thereafter, while level three charges $8 per hour.

Seven new chargers will be added over the next few months at Richmond City Hall, Richmond Animal Shelter and Capstan Park.

The increased budget to Foreseeson Technology is on the agenda for this week’s public works meeting.