​Electric vehicle users can now access a Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC) in a publicly accessible parking area of Metro Vancouver’s head office in Burnaby.

The installation of the charger, located in the parking lot at Metrotower III, is the result of a $150,000 Sustainability Innovation Fund (SIF) application, approved by the Board in 2017. The intention is to establish and test innovative pricing and usage rules to accommodate charging for a wide range of user groups, including the public, Metro Vancouver’s fleet, as well as staff and Metrotower III tenants.

DCFC stations are the equivalent of gas stations for electric vehicles. They enable charging for long distance travel in a relatively short time and offer users a new level of charging convenience. Metro Vancouver’s DCFC station is a multi-standard station, enabling it to charge the majority of the electric vehicle models currently available. With the capability to provide DC power up to 50 kW, the station can provide a significant charge in less than 30 minutes.

Although the most common practice in B.C. is to provide public charging for free, DCFC station hosts are increasingly looking to set fees for charging to enable cost recovery and to relieve station congestion. The charging station is open 24/7 on a first-come, first-served basis and employs a distinctive two-tiered pricing system.

Users are charged by the minute, and after the first 30 minutes of charging, a higher tiered price is initiated. This is because after about 30 minutes of charging, most EVs will accept power from a DCFC station at a much slower rate, significantly decreasing the efficiency of the charging session. A two-tiered pricing system will incentivize users to unplug and vacate the station for the next user. A pricing model that encourages a high turnover rate is essential to ensure the maximum impact and efficient use of the station.

Staff will monitor usage data and adjust station pricing as user charging behaviour and price sensitivity become better understood.