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Our View: BC Hydro needs upgrades for electric vehicle future

We’re going to need more clean power for all those clean powered cars
TransLink’s Mayors Council plans to expand from their pilot electric buses (left) to a fleet of more than 600 in 10 years. On the right is an old-school electric trolley bus. (TransLink)

This week, the provincial government announced it was ending the 30 litre per fill-up rationing of gasoline and diesel fuel for private vehicles in Southwestern B.C.

The Trans Mountain pipeline was again pumping gas and oil to Burnaby from Alberta, and barges and train cars – you may have seen some of those passing through North Langley of late – have topped up B.C.’s supply.

Of course, for some folks, there was no crisis. They just plugged in their cars overnight as usual.

In 2020, just under 10 per cent of all new cars sold in B.C. were electric, a huge jump in numbers that made B.C. the electric vehicle capital of North America – at least per capita.

Given how many Teslas and Bolts and Souls are visible on the streets of Langley, the numbers for 2021 are likely even higher.

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However, if we are wildly successful in expanding the number of electric vehicles on the roads, from cars to light utility vehicles to buses, B.C. will soon have a new crisis.

Our electrical infrastructure needs some big upgrades. We’re going to need more power, for one thing. We’re going to have to deliver more of it overnight, traditionally a time when few people are using much electricity, but which will be a very popular time to charge cars. We’re going to need a lot more fast chargers in public places, whether that’s civic centres or shopping malls.

The benefits of all this work will be cleaner air and better health. We can expect fewer kids with asthma and likely fewer cases of lung cancer. That’s before we get to the vital task of tackling climate change. Electric vehicles will be part of making a better world in many ways.

The necessary hydro upgrades will be a big job, and we’d better start soon. B.C. drivers are ahead of the curve on the electric vehicle future. Our power supply has to be, as well.

– M.C.