Electric shift begins in Invermere

One charging station at the District of Invermere office and another at Kicking Horse Coffee became operational on Tuesday, March 12th

With two electric vehicle charging stations now in operation, a whole new grid of green opportunity has opened up in the Columbia Valley.

One charging station at the District of Invermere office and another at Kicking Horse Coffee became operational on Tuesday, March 12th, under a joint initiative between the province, local government and sustainable energy supporters.

“I think we are at the forefront of the kind of vehicle electrification that we are going to see a lot more of in the future,” said Bill Swan of Invermere’s Groundswell Network Society, a participating non-profit group. “I would anticipate that this kind of project results in additional vehicle chargers in the region to service the market.”

The charging station at Kicking Horse Coffee became operational due to the company’s combined efforts with Groundswell. The project got underway in April 2012 when the provincial government announced a $2.7 million Community Charging Infrastructure Fund, administered by the non-profit Fraser Basin Council. The funds’ goal is to aid in the creation of 570 charging stations across the province by March 31st this year.

“We are very interested in advancing the link between electrification of vehicles and the use of renewable energy,” Mr. Swan added.

“Kicking Horse is also very interested in renewable energy as well with their wind turbines and their solar hot water heating. It was a nice cooperative venture in that regard.”

The unit at Kicking Horse Coffee is a level two 90 amp charger manufactured by Sun Country Highway, which retails between $6,000 and $8,000 when installed, Mr. Swan explained.

“It is a pretty high-capacity unit that can take some of the higher-end electric vehicles out there,” he said.

The charger itself is able to provide an adequate charge for a wide range of electric vehicles, from entry-level sub-compact cars to the $155,000 Tesla Roadster sports car, Mr. Swan explained.

“We are going to have an interpretive panel at the charger explaining why we did it and what both organizations are up to in regards to renewable energy, sustainability and economic development in our community,” he said.

The second electric charging station at the District of Invermere municipal office will also provide a wide variety of vehicles with range-expanding electricity.

“I think Invermere itself is a relatively compact community with room and a place for electric vehicles, especially for in-town travel,” said Mayor Gerry Taft.

“I would think over time that they will become more common.”

Although the charging stations were partly funded by the province and arrive at no cost to the user, both Kicking Horse Coffee and the District of Invermere are paying the installation fees and electricity bills for their charging units.

Sun Country Highway, the manufacturer of the charging stations, has listed a cross-Canada network of all of their charging stations on their website. The Invermere stations will be added to dozens of communities nation-wide already equipped with the technology. For more information, visit www.suncountryhighway.ca .