GLOBE Foundation

BC plan for electric car charging stations may `unleash` vehicles around province


Source: GLOBE Foundation

A plan by the B.C. government to build 570 car-charging stations across the province could unleash electric vehicles from the short tether on which they are currently operating.

On April 3, B.C. Environment minister Terry Lake announced $2.74 million from the Community Charging Infrastructure Fund for the charging stations, plus three Level 3 DC Fast Charging Stations deployed in the coming months. A further 27 level 3 DC fast charging stations are planned throughout the province in the future.

These fast chargers will allow electric vehicle owners to recharge in approximately 15 to 20 minutes, and will extend the mobility options for these drivers. These new investments come on the heels of a $261,000-partnership contribution earlier this year by the Province to the City of Vancouver to help 'install over 67 electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city.

The new infrastructure will allow electric vehicles to roam many of the province's major highways.  Without charging infrastructure, vehicle owners were limited in the distances they could travel. The limitations, however, have not dampened electric vehicle sales. According to the Ministry of Environment, a new clean energy vehicle (CEV) is sold in B.C. every 30 hours.

That enthusiasm for CEV's is also reflected in new plans for the electric highway from California to British Columbia.

In March, California announced $120 million will be spent to build a vast network of charging stations in that state.  This includes 200 public fast-charging stations, and wiring for 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations across the state. The stations are part of a massive campaign to put 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on California's roads by 2025. California has set the world benchmark for innovation for fuel standards and electric vehicle development and deployment.

The significance of electric vehicle charging infrastructure is also reflected in the recent GLOBE Advisors West Coast Clean Economy report.

The report underscores the importance of all west coast jurisdictions working together to bring CEV's, clean engine technology and infrastructure to an enormous geographic, economic and social ecosystem. The report points out that the region's local economies are connected by multiple energy, information, transportation and trade channels through which flow hundreds of millions of dollars of commerce daily. That report states:

'Positive network externalities allow an 'expansion of the pie,' so to speak, by creating synergies that would not occur by the efforts of a single jurisdiction alone. As an example, positive network externalities develop when more users purchase electric vehicles (EVs) because of their increased infrastructure and acceptance. The Green Highway Initiative linking Southern California to BC with new transportation technologies to stimulate private infrastructure investment recognizes these positive network externalities.

In Washington, a private company will manufacture, supply, install and operate a network of fast-charging stations for EV's. The stations will be located every 65-95 km (40-60 miles) along stretches of the I-5 between the Canadian border and Everett, and between Olympia and the Oregon border.

In Oregon, the state will implement a tax rebate this year for residential unit EV charging stations.

The West Coast Clean Economy report says these clean transportation initiatives can provide enormous employment opportunities for the West Coast region related to the design, manufacturing, and deployment of clean-powered vehicles, development of alternative fuels and related infrastructure, and improvements to systems for the movement of goods and people.

Currently, there are about 166,000 full-time clean-tech jobs in B.C. and the green labour force growth is projected to be 1.5 per cent, which indicates that B.C. could face a worker shortage of 60,000 by 2020.

In B.C., the government currently provides point-of-sale incentives of between $2,500 and $5,000 on eligible clean-energy vehicles including the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiEV, Tesla Roadster, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Volt, light-duty natural gas vehicles, light-duty hydrogen-fuel-cell electric vehicles and other qualifying vehicles bought or leased on or after Dec. 1, 2011.

Rebates of up to $500 per unit for residential electric charging stations that meet identified eligibility requirements for any charging equipment purchased on or after Dec. 1, 2011. And the municipal building codes have been modified to require electric vehicle charging infrastructure to be installed for new building construction.

'The new car dealers are looking forward to the next CEV milestone as our partners continue to move clean cars into people's driveways,' said Blair Qualey of the New Car Dealers Association of B.C. 'The charging stations will help ensure the new electric vehicle is even more appealing.'

The increasing volume of electric vehicle sales, the growing public acceptance of clean technology and increased government infrastructure investment in the U.S. and Canada is expected to provide a boost to the electric and alternative fuel vehicle programs on the West Coast.

The president of the California Public Utilities Commission sums it up succinctly. 'Growing EV sales will, in turn, attract ever more investment in charging infrastructure to our state,' says Michael R. Peevey, which would in turn create more jobs, cut air pollution and help the state achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

It is a sentiment that is finding similar expression in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia.

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