Fraser Basin Council & Plug In BC: Building Canada’s Largest Electric Vehicle Charging Network Through Collaboration

Project Leads: Charlotte Argue, Vanadis Oviedo, Jim Vanderwal, Denise Hoskins, Adriana Ruso and David Marshall

Transportation accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the Province of British Columbia (B.C.), at 36% of total emissions. Electric vehicles represent an important opportunity for emissions reduction, especially given that over 90% of B.C.’s electricity comes from clean, renewable sources.

In order to increase market uptake of electric vehicles, a combination of incentives, public awareness and charging infrastructure are required in order to give consumers confidence in this new technology. Since mid-2012, Fraser Basin Council (FBC) played a key role in bringing together a broad range of business, government and utility partners to build the largest electric vehicle charging network in Canada under the Plug In BC program.

Financial support of $2.7 million was secured from the BC Ministry of Environment in April 2012, with the following project objectives:
* Reduce barriers to electric vehicle purchase, by substantially increasing the electric vehicle charging network in B.C.
* Increase public awareness and acceptance of electric vehicles in B.C.

Putting Together A Collaborative Plan

The initial step of this program was to develop a strong collaborative amongst the key players with influence over electric vehicle deployment in B.C. FBC engaged government and BC Hydro staff in a program design that would support widespread uptake of charging infrastructure across multiple sectors.

What resulted was an open process that engaged twelve local governments, who participated in local planning activities to identify potential private and public sector charging station hosts. In addition, FBC engaged industry associations representing hotels, shopping centres, and other key sectors to help identify businesses with an interest in hosting stations.

Station hosts would receive financial support from program, but in exchange needed to provide matching funding and operate the stations for the next five years at a minimum.

The response was overwhelming, and the results speak for themselves:
• 456 electric vehicle charging stations (level 2, 240volt) were installed under the program in regions across BC, where prior to this program, BC had fewer than 5 public stations.
• 127 partner organizations stepped up to the plate and agreed to host these charging stations, providing their own matching capital totaling over $1.5 million, as well as taking responsibility for operating costs and maintenance over the next 5 years.
• Usage of the charging stations has continued to grow, with the number of charge events tripling between August 2013 and August 2015.
• For the 449 stations tracked by Powertech Labs, over 803 tonnes of greenhouse gases have been avoided since the stations were installed and online.

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Based on the success of this program, FBC worked with the Province, Metro Vancouver, and the cities of Surrey and Vancouver to launch a public awareness campaign for electric vehicles. Launched in June 2014, the Emotive campaign has partnered with dozens of communities and organizations, and connected with over 10,000 people through Facebook, events and electric vehicle ride & drives, engaging the public on the “electric experience”.

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