The rapid uptake of electric vehicles in the Kootenays has the Regional District celebrating progress in transitioning to low-carbon transportation.
According to the Community Energy Association, some of this rapid uptake is thanks in part to Accelerate Kootenays, a plan that put the region ahead of the curve in terms of EV infrastructure.
“The foresight that the RDEK showed back in 2016 to recognize the potential regional benefits of supporting EVs, is truly visionary; it set our region up for ongoing economic and environmental success,” said Megan Lohmann, Deputy Executive Director for the Community Energy Association. “We were ahead of the curve 6 years ago with early support and infrastructure. So now, residents and businesses can adopt EVs because it makes economic sense, and that’s exciting to see; the cost savings have been a game changer for some.”
Accelerate Kootenays was spearheaded by the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) along with with the Regional Districts of Kootenay Boundary and Central Kootenay back in 2018.
Since then, significant investment at various levels of government helped grow an expanding network of EV charging stations.
“This foundational infrastructure made it possible for visitors and locals to travel to and throughout the Kootenays – from Elkford to Grand Forks, Nakusp to Field, and Rogers Pass to Creston,” said the Community Energy Association, the organization that helped facilitate the project.
Since Accelerate Kootenays began, the number of EV chargers has been growing, with stations along highways, at private businesses and local government buildings.
“I am proud of the progress that is being made in our region, we are leading the way and continue to push ahead with what I see as our obligation to take measures that facilitate the introduction of clean technologies,” said RDEK Board Chair Rob Gay.
Community Energy Association officials said Kootenay residents have been taking up EVs at the same rate as those in the lower mainland.
The RDEK and Community Energy Association collaborated on a video series called Rural EV Leadership, to show off the benefits and use of EVs across a number of sectors.
“Auto manufacturers around the globe are adding EVs to their product lines because they are a real choice for people now,” added Gay. “Businesses, institutions and local governments are integrating electric vehicles into their fleets for good reason. It has been rewarding to hear the stories of the advantages people are seeing when making the switch.”
Accelerate Kootenays has secured an additional $1-million earmarked for building charging stations at businesses, public organizations, non-profits and local government buildings.
Applicants can be eligible for up to 50 per cent of the funding through Accelerate Kootenays, with an additional 25 per cent of the cost covered by the provincial government.
More: Accelerate Kootenays 2.0 funding application