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Vehicle chargers still new

Invermere’s two electric vehicle charging stations have been up and running for nearly a year, but have yet to see a lineup of vehicles waiting to use them.
Despite there being only one regular user of the two identical 90-amp charging stations — one found at the District of Invermere office and the other at Kicking Horse Coffee — there are plans to roll out new signage for the stations, and to eventually install more of them.
“They’re very easy; they’re very convenient,” said Wilmer resident Rosemarie Mackay, who drives a black Chevy Volt. “When you’ve got something to do, you can plug it in for an hour, go do your thing, and come back.”
“I absolutely love it; I have no complaints whatsoever,” said Mrs. Mackay, who can fully charge up the vehicle at home for $0.99; at either of the two public chargers, she can do it for free. (The car is owned by her son, Colin, who is frequently away working in Namibia.) She’s driven the vehicle as far as Edmonton, thanks to its built-in gas-powered generator.
Three chargers were approved under a provincial program last September — a School District 6 application was approved, but not yet installed at a local school — and were set up within weeks by Greenman Sustainable Solutions owner Bill Swan and electrical contractors. Signage has recently bee installed to steer drivers towards the Kicking Horse Coffee charger, while the district has just received signage and will soon erect it.
Neither charger is being metered to measure the use. The wattage is likely a small number, as the chargers see few visitors, and the meters have no phantom power draw when they’re not in use.
“On the Internet, you can track the usage of the Kicking Horse Coffee unit; there’s been some glitches with that, but we’re going to get it worked out,” said Mr. Swan, who noted that despite B.C.’s standing offer of a $5,000 incentive and a PST exemption for those who buy an electric vehicle, there’s still a very small uptake across the province.
“The way I look at it is it’s about putting something in front of people and trying to get a new concept advanced; when I said I think the electric car revolution is coming, I really believe that,” said Mr. Swan. “It’s being driven by a number of factors: climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are a big factor, but at the end of the day it will be price — and energy prices to move vehicles are getting really high. For $2, you can go 150 kilometres in an electric vehicle.”
The District of Invermere’s charger is hooked up to a panel that in the future may be monitored for usage, said planner Rory Hromadnik. If it becomes well used, it might become a for-charge service, activated by a credit card, he said.
“I think we’ll do at least one more, maybe two, and put it in a relatively central place, maybe right in the downtown – I think that would help with the usage as well,” he said. The district and the Fraser Basin Council split the $6,000 cost to purchase and install the first charger, and Mr. Hromadnik said he expects to see another matching grant opportunity for more chargers in a year or two.
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