RDCK to fund electric car charging network

'It’s an economic, social, and environmental project working toward transforming transportation in the region.'

A Tesla charging in Creston.

The Regional District of Central Kootenay board has voted to contribute $30,000 to the development of a network of electric car charging stations throughout the West Kootenay.

The RDCK previously agreed to write a letter of support for the initiative, but this latest decision comes with a cheque.

Chief administrative officer Stuart Horn said there was very little discussion around the board table about the funding request from the Fueling Change Initiative.

“The board saw the benefit of this, whether it is for folks moving toward electric cars for residents here, or to help with the tourism impact of people making road trips through here and needing places to charge up.”

Trish Dehnel of Fueling Change told the Star that the RDCK contribution matches identical amounts from the regional districts of Kootenay Boundary and East Kootenay for a total of $90,000 toward the project’s $800,000 budget. The group hopes to receive money from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

“This is a cohesive collaboration strategy to bring electric vehicles, first as tourists,” she said, “and later on to transform our market so that locals can purchase and maintain and service electric vehicles to transform the grid to be an electric vehicle grid. If you are looking for an EV station they are all going to look the same and they are going to serve not just Teslas but all electric vehicles.

“It’s an economic, social, and environmental project working toward transforming transportation in the region.”

There were 1,791 electric vehicles sold in BC in 2015, a 60 per cent increase over 2014, according to Brian Millar of Plug ‘n’ Drive, a national electric vehicle advocacy group. BC is third behind Ontario and Quebec in electric vehicle sales.

Millar told the Star that new electric vehicle buyers soon discover most of their charging is done at home, but a robust network of charging stations is nevertheless needed to increase driver confidence, avoid “range anxiety,” and encourage tourism by electric car drivers.

The RDCK funding will be given in two parts, $15,000 for each of 2016 and 2017.

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