They may not have any electric vehicles yet, but the Penticton campus of Okanagan College will soon have a pair of charging stations for them.
“Right now, we are looking at it as partly a community service. People will be able to pull up and charge their vehicles,” said Lomas “It’s also an attempt at trying to stimulate some interest and discussion about electric vehicles.”
The college has some hybrid vehicles in its fleet right now, but no fully electric ones, though Lomas said the college is looking at the possibility.
“We are in the process of investigating electric vehicles and our new fiscal year starts in April, so we will be looking at that to see what is possible,” said Lomas.
The charging stations will be available to the public at the same rate as visitor parking fees.
“At this point they would be able to charge up and that would be part of our community service,” said Lomas. “What’s interesting down here in Penticton is that in the summer, if someone pulls up and wanted to charge their car on a nice sunny day, our solar panels on the roof of the Centre of Excellence will producing more than we are using. They will actually be being powered by our solar panels.”
Excess power from the solar cells on the roof of the “green” building first powers other buildings on the Penticton campus, then goes into the larger electric grid. With the electric vehicle chargers in place, that excess power will also be fed through them, providing a very clean source of energy for the vehicles.
“The charging stations are again an incentive to get people thinking about using alternative energy and think about it in the context of a car,” said Lomas. “We are curious to see how the chargers are going to work and are very curious to see if people take advantage of them.”
Having one of the world’s most sustainable buildings on the Penticton campus has changed many things at the college.
“The goals of the Centre of Excellence are such that it is affecting the whole campus,” said Lomas. For the last couple of years, the college has also been running a bike-lending program to help students get to the campus without driving, as well as operating a carpool incentive for students coming from longer distances.
“It’s our responsibility as a college to foster a culture of sustainable transportation,” said Okanagan College energy specialist Rob St. Onge. “Installing these charging stations is just one of the things we’re doing to encourage people to think differently about transportation.”
According to St. Onge, Okanagan College is installing 10 charging stations at campuses throughout the valley. Besides the two at Penticton, there will be four at the Kelowna campus, and two each at the Vernon and Salmon Arm campuses.
The installation of the chargers is part of a B.C. Ministry of Environment’s $2.7-million initiative with the goal of 570 charging stations installed province-wide. Through the program, the province pays up to $4,000 per station with the college paying the remainder of the cost, approximately $1,000 per unit.