The Kootenay region is a beautiful, mountainous, rural area of BC. With a population of just over 150,000 and a land area of over 58,000 square kilometers, solutions to reducing transportation-related GHG emissions must reflect the local challenges and opportunities.  Dependence on personal vehicles for travel between communities and throughout the region means transportation is responsible for a higher percentage of community emissions in the rural context, compared with urban communities

The Kootenay region is also a destination for all-season tourism. The Highway 3 Mayors’ and Chairs’ Coalition is a group of municipal leaders with a mandate to improve the Highway 3 corridor for travelers to the region. The Coalition identified the opportunity to facilitate EV charging across Highway 3 in 2014.

rural versus urban transportation emissions graphic

Presented with this unique opportunity to address regional GHG transportation emissions, the 3 regional governments of the Kootenay region (East Kootenay, Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary) began to explore locally relevant solutions. Emission reduction solutions like urban form, public transit, alternative transportation, etc. just aren't as feasible in rural areas. 

After early research and modelling, it became clear that supporting the transition toward clean energy vehicles, emphasizing innovation and collaboration, would effectively meet GHG reduction targets while bolstering local tourism economies.

mountain graphic of accelerate Kootenays

accelerate Kootenays will pilot a comprehensive and collaborative approach to closing the EV station gap in rural areas, and to accelerating uptake of electric vehicles. 

The initiative will accelerate the entire region from the current status of low electric vehicle uptake and limited charging station connectivity, to a robust and comprehensive network that will make EV ownership feasible and advantageous. This will be done by strategically deploying Level 2 and DCFC charging stations and engaging a communications campaign to highlight the benefits of EV ownership in rural areas.

accelerate kootenays timeline

Selecting Charging Station Locations

An effective electric vehicle network includes station sites that: provide local community benefit, are conveniently sited for both visitor and local resident use, and are part of a well-planned network that provides reliable travel to and within the region. Early network modeling revealed that 10-13 DCFC and approximately 40 Level 2 stations would be required to address ‘range anxiety’ and to create a network that is reliable and effective. Local governments and communities have been engaged to identify those locations in their community that would maximize local co-benefits. Technical expertise from Powertech, BC Hydro and professional electricians are involved to confirm electrical capacity.

Direct Current Fast Charger (DCFC)

DCFC stations are your stop n' go charging service. While they are more expensive to install, they allow travelers to quickly stop to top up their charge. Given the many mountain passes in the Kootenay region and cold winter temperatures, both of which iimpact range, DCFC stations are vital to support long distance travel. The accelerate DCFC locations were identified using comprehensive modeling to ensure a 2013 Model Nissan Leaf traveling with 2 passengers at -10 Celsius would be able to travel confidently throughout the Kootenays. 

Level 2 Chargers

Level 2 stations are your stop n' shop charging option. They are less expensive to install and can be located within communities to support local economies and enhance tourism. Level 2 stations were identified with the input and collaboration of Regional Districts and local governments to ensure even distribution and connected travel. Level 2 stations will also be located within close proximity to each DCFC station as safety backup and for vehicles that are unable to charge at the DC Fast Charging stations.

Charging Station Manufacturer

In order to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles by Kootenay residents, prospective drivers need to know they won't get stranded without a place to charge in the middle of winter. With this in mind, the accelerate project sought to find a charging station manufacturer ("vendor") who produces equipment that could withstand the extreme weather we can encounter in our region. AddENERGIE, based in Quebec, was therefore selected as the vendor for accelerate. In addition to producing high quality equipment that can withstand extreme cold in remote areas, their charging stations are manufactured in Canada, which is a nice bonus.

Add Energie Quebec