The Kootenays region is just east of Kelowna and it extends all the way to the border of Alberta. Known for the scenic drive on highway 1 which connects the country coast to coast, it is also an electric powerhouse. The region's dams generate more than half of the province's electric needs, supplying to a population of more than 4.7 million. With such an abundance of electricity, the region's residents are taking a lot slower to the adoption of electric cars than those living in the metro area of Vancouver. During the Winter season, the region is known for the harsh road conditions which at some areas it is legally required to have chains in addition to proper snow tires. Sometimes people might get stuck on the highway for hours, which increases the range anxiety - how much further can the battery can power the vehicle.
In comes Accelerate Kootenays. Canada's first community-driven, collaborative strategy to build a clean transportation network. The multi-million dollar project involves the Regional Districts of East Kootenay, Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary, with collaboration support from Columbia Basin Trust, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Province of BC, FortisBC, BC Hydro and Powertech Labs. Their vision is to build the infrastructure to support electric vehicles, which will reduce the range anxiety that stops people from buying electric cars. The coalition plans to expand the electric car network which will include 13 DC quick Charging stations and 40 Level 2 stations. Strategically located throughout the region, it will give the residents more opportunities to charge without trailing off their planned travel route.
The DC fast chargers can add 5 km of travel range per minute or more to an electric car's battery. The Level 2 stations will charge at a much slower pace, intended to fully charge a vehicle in about 8-10 hours depending on the battery size, but can offer a location to charge for emergencies. The DC fast chargers will probably cost more to use but in comparison to gas prices, the price for travel distance is much far superior. Charging at home costs roughly two cents per kilometer of travel distance. With a $5000 rebate from the BC provincial government as an incentive to purchase electric cars, the Kootenay region may follow in the footsteps of Quebec and become a hub for electric cars.