District looks at E-vehicle infrastructure

Nanaimo school officials want to use a $25,000 energy improvement grant to buy an electric car and install three charging stations on district property.

The Education Ministry announced the grant earlier this year, to be spent on projects that increase the energy efficiency of the district’s buildings and operations.

With just $25,000 to work with to help reduce the district’s carbon footprint, officials think that getting into the electric car market is the way to go.

“It boils down to the fact that fossil fuels generate more carbon,” said Pete Sabo, the district’s director of planning and operations. “It’s our first attempt at assessing the operations of an electric vehicle in the district.”

One of the charging stations would be for the sole use of the district, to go in the maintenance yard, and officials are considering putting the other two near Nanaimo District Secondary School where members of the public could use them.

Sabo said cost of the three charging stations is $21,000, but the district would receive an $8,000 grant through the Community Charging Infrastructure Fund, a provincial grant program announced last spring.

The district will use the $12,000 left over as a down payment on a $39,000 electric vehicle and the remaining $27,000 will be leased at $450 per month.

But because the district will be able to return a rental vehicle that was costing the district $882 per month, it actually saves money in this move, he added.

The Education Ministry has approved this use of the money.

As electric vehicles come down in price, the district will have the infrastructure in place to look at adding more of them, said Sabo.

He said the estimated carbon offset savings of having one electric vehicle in operation are about $150 a year, but the car will also have an educational component to it – the district’s energy manager could drive it to schools and show it to students.

Jamie Brennan, school board chairman, said the move will increase awareness about alternatives to fossil fuel-burning vehicles.

“This is a small start, but it’s a start towards less reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

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