BUILDING THE NETWORK
Charge North is working with BC Hydro and the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to develop a charging network that supports reliable EV travel over almost 2,800 km of highway, with approximately 120 Level 2 stations and 30 Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) stations. Both Level 2 and DCFC stations are necessary to create a robust rural EV network. DCFC stations are critical to longer distance travel, getting people safely and reliability to and around central and northern BC - while Level 2 stations can direct how and where visitors spend their time and money while in a community.
Most of the local economic benefits to communities will be the result of Level 2 stations: the ‘stop and shop’ stations. While they are a slower charge, they open a community up as a destination. EV owners generally charge at home, but when on vacation use charging stations while they recreate, eat, and shop. Level 2 stations will hold visitors for up to 4-6 hours in a location, facilitating economic and tourism benefits. They provide important back up to DCFC stations and ensure all types of EVs have access to public charging. DCFC’s provide on-the-go charging for an 80% charge in approximately 30-40 minutes, depending on the type of EV. They are quick stops on main routes and essential to traveling the long distances between communities in central and northern BC.
This initiative will help to move the entire region from the current status of low electric vehicle uptake and limited charging station connectivity, to comprehensive network that will make EV ownership feasible and advantageous. Strategically locating Level 2 and DCFC stations and supporting a public awareness campaign to highlight the benefits of EV ownership in rural areas are key to accelerating EV adoption in the Charge North region.
Across Canada, electric vehicle infrastructure installation and EV adoption efforts have been heavily focused within urban centres. Yet, it is the rural regions of Canada that have the highest transportation related greenhouse gas emissions, and the fewest options with respect to active transportation, public transit and compact development as a means to reduce vehicle kilometers traveled, associated greenhouse gas emissions and high energy costs. Transportation greenhouse gas emissions are consistently higher in communities in the north.
Presented with this unique opportunity to work together to address regional greenhouse gas transportation emissions, six regional governments began to explore locally relevant solutions.
In 2018, the six regional districts leveraged funding with a grant from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and undertook a planning and feasibility study. After early research and modelling, it became clear that supporting the transition toward clean energy vehicles, and emphasizing innovation and collaboration, could help meet greenhouse gas reduction targets while bolstering local economies. The project moved quickly from planning to installation with the first set of DCFC stations installed at four provincial rest areas and a fifth in 70 Mile House in the Cariboo region that year.
Since 2019, BC Hydro and the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure have continued to install DCFCs along Highways 5, 97 and 16. Charge North is leading the planning and installation of Level 2 stations, working closely with local governments and First Nations. Once Level 2 station funding is confirmed, the installation will to roll out over the next 2+ years. During the first phase of Level 2 station deployment, anticipated to start in 2020, Charge North will support 25 local governments and First Nations to install 55 Level 2 stations, some in each of the six regional districts.
Charge North builds upon lessons learned from both Accelerate Kootenays and Peaks to Prairies EV projects, both community-driven approaches to electrifying rural areas, but takes into account the unique context of central and northern BC to ensure maximum benefits for residents, communities and drivers.
Charge North also complements the Province of BC’s CleanBC Plan, launched in December 2018, which will require 100% of vehicles sold in BC to be zero-emission by 2040.
Charge North is facilitated by the Community Energy Association on behalf of an Advisory Committee made up of representatives from regional districts in central and northern BC and the Northern BC Tourism Association. The project is a collaboration between six regional districts - North Coast, Kitimat-Stikine, Bulkley-Nechako, Fraser-Fort George, Cariboo, and Thompson-Nicola and the many communities of the Charge North region.
The initiative is proudly supported by funding partners who share the clean transportation vision: Northern Development Initiatives Trust, the Province of BC and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
BC Hydro and the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure are contributing significantly to the development of the overall Charge North network, leading the way on DCFC station installation along Highways 5, 97 and 16.