Car charging stations help electric vehicles travel Kootenays

In a collaborative effort with the provincial government,BC Hydro, and a number of other partners,the Town of Golden is installing electric vehicle charging stations at the parking lot next to the cenotaph.

The charging stations are being placed in strategic areas around the Kootenays as a way to connect communities and help people with electric vehicles reach more destinations.

The location in Golden was chosen because of its proximity to two major travelling routes, Highway 95 and the Trans-Canada Highway. Currently, there is only the Tesla charging station located at the Travelodge along the Trans-Canada Highway, that charges that specific type of electric vehicle.

“This is a largely provincial government collaborative effort to get electric vehicle charging stations in strategic areas around the Kootenays, so that the people with electric cars both locally and visitors alike can get around,” said Town of Golden CAO Jon Wilsgard.

The province has been working to install electric vehicle charging stations in key areas, and has partnered with a number of organizations to expand the project into the Kootenays.

“Probably six years ago, there was a program for more of Vancouver, the Island, the Okanagan, where communities are a lot closer together to put in car charging infrastructure as kind of a first step in B.C., but the communities are smaller here and they’re further apart from each other, so it really took a number of partners to come together,” said Town planner and manager of development services Phil Armstrong.

The partners came together to create the Accelerate Kootenays program, which is a two-year, $1.5 million initiative of the regional districts of the East and Central Kootenays, and the Kootenay Boundary.

The charging station will feature a direct current fast-charging (DCFC) station, which is being installed and operated by BC Hydro and can charge an electric vehicle in about a half an hour, and the Town of Golden will own and operate the Level 2 chargers, which charge the cars at a slower rate over the course of a few hours. Together, there will be four chargers installed, and there is capacity to install another three in the future, although it may not be deemed necessary. The location chosen was based on its practicality, as well as its proximity to available Phase 3 power, and the parking availability in that lot.

“When people are doing those longer charges, or even the shorter charge, they will charge up and move their car so someone else can use it, but they will be in the vicinity of our downtowns,” Armstrong said. “It is structurally located, they can go do their shopping, grab lunch or coffee, stretch their legs, check out the bridge and the trails, and then continue on their way or maybe spend the night, whatever.”

The accelerate Kootenays project is connecting 40 communities with the electric vehicle charging stations, which includes 13 DCFCs and 40 Level 2 stations, across 1,870 kilometres of connected travel. The DCFCs offer electric vehicle travellers the option to charge their vehicle quickly. Although they are more expensive to install, they allow travellers to stop quickly to charge up their cars and get back on the road again. The range of electric vehicles can be impacted when travelling mountain passes and in the cold winter months, which makes fast charging stations an integral part of the infrastructure.

Level 2 stations allow travellers to plug in and enjoy the community they are topping up in. These stations were identified to ensure even distribution and connected travel, while being located in close proximity to the DCFC stations.

“The Community Energy Association was good in recognizing some of the local benefits of picking one area over another, and the experience of the electric vehicle drivers and where they park, so we looked at areas that were centrally located and close to Phase 3 power, and not super busy parking lots either,” Armstrong said.

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