West Coast Climate Pact Will Give EVs a Jump

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Canadians are already ideally positioned to reap the benefits of the shift from internal combustion transportation to less-polluting alternatives—and a recent commitment from the Government of British Columbia gives the province a bit of a policy jumpstart to help this shift along.

That’s because the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy—signed in October by British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California—includes a commitment to accelerate the growth of zero emission vehicles.

Under the pact, by 2016 at least 10 percent of all fleet vehicles sold up and down the West Coast will need to meet that standard.

Though the pact’s wording allows wiggle room for fuel-cell vehicles, at Electric Mobility Canada, we define “zero emissions” as plug-in electric vehicles, or EVs. Here’s why expanding EV fleets makes imminent sense:

  • Electric vehicles have zero emissions at the vehicle. They are quiet and their maintenance is inexpensive compared to internal-combustion engine vehicles.
  • The price of electricity to drive these vehicles is predictable and is set domestically, not by international cartels.
  • Current vehicle and battery technologies are sufficient to meet most daily commutes as well as regional trips.
  • Electric vehicle fleets can act like a giant “battery” to even up a variable-output renewable-heavy power grid. Fleet owners can sell power back to the utility when the fleet is parked.
  • As technologies continue to improve, the range of these vehicles will be even greater.

Much of the infrastructure needed to realize the Action Plan target  is already in place, or about to be.

This coming spring, thanks to a partnership between B.C. Hydro and Greenlots SKY, a California-based company will provide universal DC fast-charging stations in Metro Vancouver, in the Fraser Valley, along the Sea to Sky corridor, in Kamloops and on Vancouver Island. The stations will be leased to local municipal governments.

There are considerably more charging stations in the United States, where multiple fast-charge stations and standards fight for dominance. For its part, Tesla Motors recently energized a daisy-chain of charging stations stretching from San Diego to Vancouver—but they only work with the company’s vehicles.

Renewable energy commitments in the Pacific Coast Action Plan further the climate benefits of electric vehicles. The movement to streamline permitting for renewables will make clean electricity more readily available on the West Coast. Grid integration will help to distribute clean energy throughout the region.

This is significant because while regions like British Columbia have a substantial amount of clean hydropower, other districts still rely on carbon intensive energy production, such as coal. The increased connectivity will allow for surplus clean electricity from one jurisdiction to reduce need for coal and gas in another.

Ultimately, this evolution of infrastructure will allow for EVs on the coast to not only have zero emissions, but to also be charged by low-carbon electricity, as they now are in B.C.

This is an important time for electric vehicles. We encourage all levels of government to continue supportive programs for electric vehicles as a sure way to meet emission reduction targets from transportation.

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