B.C. Hydro is planning for the increased electricity demand as more people move from costly gasoline and diesel to plug-in electric cars.
With federal and provincial rebates now offered for zero-emission vehicles and gasoline prices soaring in B.C., sales of plug-in hybrid, battery electric and even the emerging hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has climbed.
With Ottawa’s new point-of-sale rebate of up to $5,000 taking effect May 1, added to the $5,000 provincial rebate for qualifying zero-emission new vehicles, “we saw a rapid increase over the last few days,” said B.C. Energy Minister Michelle Mungall.
Mungall was attending the now-annual test drive day for zero-emission vehicles at the B.C. legislature this week, where manufacturers take questions and demonstrate the new vehicles they have on offer. As of last year, sales of zero-emission vehicles were up to about four per cent of total new vehicle sales.
B.C.’s point-of sale program is administered by the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. It provides up to $5,000 for purchase or lease of a new battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle or up to $6,000 for a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.
B.C. Hydro’s latest electric load forecast estimates that by 2024, demand from electric vehicle charging will be 558 gigawatt-hours. That’s more than one tenth the output of the new Site C dam under construction in northeast B.C.
Even with that forecast increase in demand and general population growth, B.C. Hydro estimates it will still be in an energy surplus until 2033, with current and planned generating assets.
The ZAPBC program, a privately funded extension of the Scrap-it program for replacing old cars with more efficient ones, is offering a limited number of home vehicle charging stations for only the cost of installation.