It’s safe to say that the city of Fernie has a little something for every traveler – mountains, rivers, spas, food, cafes. Well, unless you’re driving an electric car, and then the city looks a bit barren. If a visitor driving and EV wanted to stay in Fernie for a long weekend or a few weeks, they would have to plan for their car to sit at City Hall to get some juice. This isn’t the friendliest landscape for encouraging visits, and with over 20,000 EVs in BC and several thousand in Alberta and Montana, EV tourism is quickly becoming a real opportunity for communities and businesses.
This is why we were so excited to see a new Level 2 charger pop up on plugshare.com – only the second in Fernie and the first installed by a business. Marina and Jeremiah Pauw own the Fernie Super 8 and since beginning their journey as hotel owners 12 years ago have made impressive, conscious, decisions to reduce their footprint and implement environmentally conscious practices. From eliminating single use plastics in the rooms, including eliminating plastic cups, cutlery and garbage bags in rooms, updating their hot water tanks to be more efficient, and changing to LED lights, these small adjustments made a big impact. While these practices do have financial benefits, the husband and wife team are clear that economics was not the driving force, stating, “we are definitely environmentally conscious at work and at home – we have kids! We want to do our part to keep this earth beautiful for them.”
Marina and Jeremiah saw installing a Level 2 EV charger as a natural step in their quest to being sustainable business owners. They have watched the proliferation of EVs in Canada and worldwide, and understand the benefits that zero emissions travel presents, especially in pristine mountain towns like Fernie. Jeremiah says, “We would love to see every hotel in Fernie onboard and installing Level 2 charging stations, that would just be a great thing.”
For now, though, he recognizes the benefits that being the first hotel in Fernie with a charger has provided, “It’s easy marketing; we know that EV drivers look to see where charging stations are when they are choosing a place to stay and a place to sleep, so that’s a big advantage for us. Since we installed the unit on May 2nd, it’s been used a number of times and I expect it to have paid for itself this summer.”
Indeed, the convenience of waking up each morning with a full charge while on vacation is a huge draw for EV drivers. Last year, we chatted with an EV driver from Vernon who was doing a tour of Kootenay ski towns. He confirmed, “when I am planning where to sleep, the first thing I do is look for a hotel with a charger. Even if it’s a bit more expensive, the convenience of not having to find charging is worth it! I can just wake up and get to the hill!” For our own travels in our Chevy Bolt, we also prioritize hotels with chargers, especially in the winter.
The Pauws exercised impressive long term thinking when they planned the installation of their Level 2 charger, future-proofing their hotel which will become independently-owned next year (they are staying on as owners!). They leveraged existing renovation work and took advantage of the electrician’s time by installing another two 240V connections for future Level 2 units and 6 outdoor outlets for 110V cords. Now, when they want to install another charging unit, the connector is ready. And since the Province of BC has set a target that all new car sales in BC will be electric by 2040, it seems reasonable they will be adding another charger in the near future.
Congratulations, Jeremiah and Marina, for being Fernie’s 1st hotel with an EV charger! You can find Fernie Super 8 on Facebook and Twitter, or in real life with a picturesque view of the Elk River on Hwy 3.
Fast facts for hotels to maximize their investment in EV Charging infrastructure:
> Pair your install with any pre-planned renovations
> If you’re installing one 240V outlet for a charger, you might as well future-proof and install another 1 or 2!
> Get a networked charger so in the future you can easily add a user fee
> Make sure the parking stall in-front of the charger is signed for EV charging only, and don’t double up EV parking with accessibility parking
> The charger should be in a well-lit location, but doesn’t have to be closest to the front door.
> Make sure to put your charger on Plugshare.com
> If you have underground or covered parking, this is a great place for a charger
EV Fast Facts:
> Some electric cars are eligible for up to $10,000 in purchase incentives, $5,000 from the Province of BC and $5,000 from the Government of Canada
> In the first quarter of 2019, 6% of new car sales in BC were zero emissions vehicles
> In May, BC passed the Zero-Emissions Vehicles Act (ZEVA) which set a target of 10% of all new light-duty cars and trucks sold in BC to be zero emissions by 2025. By 2040, they will all need to be emissions free
> A “Level 2” charger uses 240V, similar to your dryer, and can fully charge an electric car in 4-8 hours.
> There are 13 DC fast chargers in the Kootenays, installed as part of Accelerate Kootenays, with more on the way.