Long Hauls with an Electric Vehicle

What began with an LED lightbulb led to an electric vehicle. Pat and David from Creston had been wanting to make some lifestyle changes. They wanted to make better use of local energy – both using it more efficiently and phasing out fossil fuels.

Those living in the Creston Valley have the opportunity to become a locavore in many ways; not only can one engage in a 100-mile diet but electricity needs can also be filled within that same radius, whether it be electricity from the oldest hydro generating facility in BC at Sandon, or the the new Sun Mine in Kimberley or any number of hydro facilities between.

David and Pat wanted to get an electric vehicle but faced two barriers: lack of vehicles with enough range for frequent long distance travels, and limited charging infrastructure. But, by the spring of 2019, Accelerate Kootenays had created a comprehensive regional network of direct current fast charger (DCFC) stations. On top of that, new electric vehicle options had emerged and the federal government announced new rebates for EVs. After test driving a few EVs, they chose to buy a Chevrolet Bolt from a local dealer.

Using a level 2 charging station at the Kootenay Bay ferry terminal

Long Hauls

After a few weeks testing the range while driving to adjacent communities in the Kootenays, Pat and David embarked on their first long distance electric trip – all the way from Creston to Vancouver! Past trips to the coast had routinely been punctuated with breaks along the way; this trip was much the same, although some of the stops differed.

They had breakfast at the delightful Mineshaft restaurant in Greenwood while charging the car. Then they bypassed their usual stop in Osoyoos, continuing on to Princeton, where they again plugged into the local DCFC. By the time they walked the length of the downtown and grabbed a snack at the supermarket, the car was again charged and they continued on.

Not wanting to find a charging location in the Fraser Valley, they spent an additional 15 minutes visiting Hope Slide and topping up – due to regenerative braking, they added even more kilometres of range to the battery on the descent to Hope. The rest of the trip into Vancouver and return was uneventful.

Charging the Chevrolet Bolt at Hope Slide Rest Area, east of Hope, B.C.

Since that first long trip, Pat and David have travelled the Kootenays in all seasons, learning more about the car. They now have favourite charging locations, usually based on the surrounding amenities. They have discovered great restaurants, walking trails, and have met many inquisitive folks while charging. Best of all, Pat truly enjoys the less frantic breaks.

Charging ahead

They are looking forward to 2021 with the hope of more travel and using the increasing number of DCFC stations throughout BC, plus the Peaks to Prairies network in southern Alberta. They also look forward to more “level 2 charging” infrastructure at local accommodations so they can choose to stay and charge the car overnight.

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