Gene the E-Generator
Community Energy Association is now the proud owner of Canada’s largest Mobile Electric Battery. Gene the e-generator will visit East Kootenay communities to power mountain adventures and experiences with BC's clean energy.
Gene is technically the Voltstack E-Generator made by the Vancouver-based company, Portable Electric. Practically speaking it is a clean energy alternative to diesel or gasoline powered generators, being both noise and emissions free. But what is really exciting is provides an opportunity to explore how we might apply innovative, clean technology solutions to transition to a low carbon future. Gene is on a trailer meaning we can bring it to demonstrate off-grid charging for e-snowmobiles, EVs, e-bikes and more!
Funded by Teck and built by Portable Electric, the applications of this unit are diverse. It can power food trucks at community festivals, sound and lighting equipment, electric vehicles, e-bikes, and more.
Keep an eye out for Gene at an event near you as CEA generates awareness around the Kootenays for this innovative new technology.
Gene's origin story
CEA is very proud that the idea for an off-grid charging solution to power mountain adventures came out of a 2019 e-mobility visioning session we facilitated with a diverse stakeholder group. With support from BC Hydro and the Regional District of the East Kootenay, the 2-day session invited participants to envision what an integrated e-mobility ecosystem might look like East Kootenay in 2030, 2040 and beyond.
[caption id="attachment_7618" align="alignright" width="448"] The original concept design from 2019 envisioned a portable battery that could be tied to solar power and live in remote locations.[/caption]
The mobile battery concept was one of nine pilot projects stakeholders identified as offering unique benefits to local communities and economies - driving down emissions and bolstering community resilience. In the year following the visioning session the CEA Fernie team worked to refine the concept and source funding to implement. CEA is grateful to both Portable Electric and Teck Resources for supporting the initial vision outlined by East Kootenay stakeholders - we are excited to see how this initial pilot evolves over time!
Pumping Up Savings in Heat
With initial funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC and BullItt Foundation, CEA is supporting municipal partners in Metro Vancouver, Lower Mainland and Sea to Sky Corridor in the development of a new business model to transform the electric air source heat pump market.
The province of British Columbia has set targets to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by 2050 below 2007 levels. Within British Columbia the residential sector is responsible for 6% of emissions. For the Province of BC to meeting is climate goals, homes must be decarbonized. The project intends to detail the design for a business model and corresponding program that will transform the market and accelerate electric air source heat pump (ASHP) adoption in single-family detached/semi-detached homes as existing fossil-fueled space heating assets reach end-of-life. If annual adoption rates mirror heating system replacement rates (6%), participating municipalities will exceed their building-related GHG emission targets by 2030.
Heat Pump Retrofit Opportunity
CEA has completed initial research into options for a successful business model, “Business Model Innovation to Support Air Source Heat Pump Retrofits in Metro Vancouver” (November 2019). The public report recommends fundamental elements of a new industry business model that can transform the electric air source heat pump (ASHP) market and deliver the number of ASHP retrofits needed for Metro Vancouver to reach its single-family home GHG emission reduction targets. Business model recommendations were based on a literature review of market transformation strategies and six existing heat pump business models, as well as dozens of interviews with government, industry and civil society organizations. The analysis included elements of the business model innovation process where different ideas were aggregated and evaluated to enhance the value proposition of electric ASHP to subject market.
A Path Forward
A ‘One Stop Shop’ or concierge service model is proposed to pilot. Currently, households interested in installing an electric air source heat pump (ASHP) system are largely left on their own to identify a qualified installer, ensure a quality unit and system design, locate available incentives, and arrange financing. In support of this concept, CEA published “Business Model Innovation to Support Air Source Heat Pump Retrofits in Metro Vancouver: What We’ve Learned” (August 2020). The report expands on the learnings in the original publication and answers several outstanding questions that will be used to inform the design of the business model and programming for pilot implementation in the project partner’s communities.
Need more info?
Currently, the project is entering detailed design. For more information about the Pumping Up Savings in Heat Program, please contact Danielle Wiess, Sr. Community Energy Manager (email@example.com)
East Kootenay Organics Infrastructure Program
Through the RDEK Energy Manager position, CEA is leading the East Kootenay Organics Infrastructure Program, a collaboration with municipal partners throughout the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK). The aim of the program is to recover a significant portion of compostable organic resources in the East Kootenay via optimized, scalable, aerated windrow composting at facilities located in each of three sub-regions: Columbia Valley, Central Sub-Region and the Elk Valley.
The goal is to support communities in the RDEK to embrace the Integrated Resource Recovery approach, working toward viewing waste as a valuable resource that supports other local priorities, such as GHG emissions reduction, food security, pesticide-free turf management and responsible disposal of carcass and hunting waste. This means supporting and empowering communities to take ownership of their waste.
Unique to other approaches to composting in the Province (typically owned and managed at a regional scale), the East Kootenay approach will transfer the ownership locally, ensuring opportunity to maximize local benefit. Invermere, for example, will be addressing a backlog of biosolids, and using the output to continue to meet their Pesticide Free commitments through enhanced turf management.
Assuming a conservative initial capture rate of 50% of the available compostable organics from each of our primary organics collecting communities (Invermere, Kimberley and Fernie), this capital infrastructure project will:
- Reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through aerobic composting (conservatively estimated over the 20 year life of the project to be a CO2 equivalent of 42 563 T from the Elk Valley, 13 539 T from the Columbia Valley, and 25 442 T from the Central Sub-Region for a total of 81 544 T)
- Reduce GHG emissions and costs of waste transportation, through sub-regional collection and processing of organic resources (conservatively estimated, over the 20 year lifespan of the project to be a CO2 equivalent of 40 T for the Elk Valley, 340 T for the Columbia Valley and 60 T for Central Sub-Region for a total of 440 T), thereby measurably contributing to community and regional climate action goals and commitments
- Further reduce GHG emissions via improved soil health and carbon sequestration capacity in any growing system (turf, landscaping, reclamation) where the quality compost end product is applied
- Extend the life of our regional landfills and reduce leachate contamination issues
- Maximize local co-benefits by creating green jobs and recovering safe, valuable, Class A compost for use in municipal landscaping, in regional land reclamation or landfill capping
- Address human/wildlife conflict by more effectively, responsibly managing carcasses (from roadkill, hunting residuals, and agricultural by-product) as well as excess residential tree-fruit,
- Provide a solution to the region-wide problem of biosolids management, which are currently stockpiled and transported long distances due to lack of processing capacity.
For more information about the Organics Infrastructure Program, please contact Gaëtane Carignan, Community Energy Manager (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Home Energy Retrofit Campaigns
CEA staff managed and developed some of the early Home Energy Retrofit Campaigns in BC. The Rossland Energy Diet of 2011 was one of the province’s campaign leaders, followed by the Nelson EcoSave program in 2012. Nelson EcoSave is a long-term campaign, recently expanding into the entire Regional District of Central Kootenay as "REEP" – Regional Energy Efficiency Program.
In 2019 CEA began managing the New Home component of REEP to encourage a regional approach to adopting the BC Energy Step Code. The interior “Energy Diets” of 2013, managed by CEA staff, were Kootenay Energy Diet; Okanagan Energy Diet and the East Kootenay Energy Diet. Kootenay Energy Diet was funded by Fortis BC, Natural Resources Canada, Columbia Basin Trust and LiveSmart BC, with partnership of the participating local governments and community Credit Unions. The East Kootenay Energy Diet included partnership with BC Hydro. A summary of the early Home Energy Retrofit campaigns can be found here: Energy
Efficiency Analysis Report. This document provides some useful background information on moving forward on “deep dive” retrofit campaigns.
Building A Legacy
When the BC Energy Step Code was introduced in 2017, CEA addressed an identified knowledge gap in the East Kootenay region of BC by developing the ‘Building a Legacy’ program. Responding to feedback from key industry stakeholders, the program has supported the transition of the East Kootenay building industry to implement the BC Energy Step Code (ESC) and the performance pathway approach to achieving Building Code standards.
Building a Legacy (BAL) includes a number of hands-on training opportunities that combine peer learning with leading edge building science education. We have delivered training for diverse audiences, including builders, architects, designers, sub-trades, real estate professionals, building officials and members of the public. In addition, local knowledge has been leveraged and amplified through a video series and an introduction to BC Energy Step Code video.
For updated information on the status of BC Energy Step Code implementation for new construction in East Kootenay, go to the East Kootenay Energy Step Code overview webpage. Viewers can be informed as to what each municipality is requiring, their timelines, incentives, and contacts.
CEA also developed the BAL Toolkit - an online resource inspired by the East Kootenay initiative. The BAL Toolkit was prepared for local governments to assist the implementation of the BC Energy Step Code. The online resource, linked below, includes a guidebook containing a general introduction to ESC, related Provincial and local government context, and a collection of implementation activities for use by municipalities.
The “Building A Legacy” building science workshops evolved along with the knowledge and capacity of participants. Taking an holistic approach, our instructors recognize that energy efficiency is only one of the important factors to consider in achieving comfortable, durable, high performance buildings. In the culminating workshop, “Making the Links: An Holistic Approach to Air Tightness” building scientist and engineer Hamid Heidarali, stitched together two years of transmitting knowledge and understanding in alternative below-grade, wall, and roof assemblies and their advantages and disadvantages in terms of energy efficiency, moisture management, durability and ease of repair/renovation. Our East Kootenay team has 25 wall, roof and below grade demonstration models, and accompanying technical booklets, available as learning aids to our training sessions.
CEA developed BuildSmart Tailgate training sessions to engage a harder-to-reach audience of sub-trades contractors. The on-site training introduces the BC Energy Step Code, emphasizes the importance of air tightness to the energy performance of a build, and provides a real-time mid-construction blower-door test where air leaks are detected and corrected. One host builder commented, “Thanks for putting on a very informative tailgate…It was invaluable for ourselves, our staff and sub-trades to see where the leaks were occurring!”.
The “Building A Legacy” video series, developed in collaboration with local builders, energy advisors and building officials, highlights topics such as working with an energy advisor, the importance of air tightness for energy efficiency, costs associated with building to the Step Code, and building strategies used to achieve a Step 5 (net-zero ready) home.
Charge North EV Charging Network
Charge North is developing a reliable and robust electric vehicle (EV) station network, including both DCFC stations (approximately 30-40 minutes to charge vehicle) and Level 2 stations (approximately 4 hours to charge vehicle). DCFCs allow EVs to travel long distances - they are key to getting EV drivers into the region. Levels 2s can direct how and where visitors spend their time and money while in your community. They provide important back up to DCFC stations and ensure all types of EVs have access to public charging.
Charge North is made possible by extensive collaboration between over 40 local governments and the Community Energy Association (CEA) as project facilitator. General project oversight is provided by an Advisory Committee comprised of representatives from each of the six regional districts and Northern BC Tourism Association.
Community Energy Association Role
CEA Roles and Responsibilities:
- Facilitate collaboration between 43 local governments
- Project management, including sourcing funding
- Public education and outreach
- Media relations
- Car dealership engagement
Charge North Advisory Committee
AC Roles and Responsibilities:
- Represent community level interests and act as liaison for the communities
- Communicate information to Boards and members
- Review and provide input on project collateral/public materials
- Advise on project direction and decisions
- Connect CEA with relevant stakeholders, including relevant Indigenous communities
- Bring forward project concerns and opportunities
- Provide support in securing capital for future EV station deployment
- North Coast Regional District
- Kitimat-Stikine Regional District
- Regional District of Bulkley Nechako
- Regional District of Fraser-Fort George
- Cariboo Regional District
- Thompson-Nicole Regional District
- Federation of Canadian Municipalities
- BC Hydro
- BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
- Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT)
Peaks to Prairies EV Charging Network
The Peaks To Prairies EV Charging Network facilitates travel to and within the beautiful region of Southern Alberta with fast charging and Level 2 stations from Canmore to Medicine Hat, south to Waterton and to the Crowsnest Pass... with many stops along the way!
The rural and dispersed nature of Southern Alberta communities demands solutions that are innovative, collaborative and reflective of the local challenges and opportunities.
This is why, in 2016, regional economic development organizations, Southgrow Regional Initiative and Alberta Southwest Regional Alliance, approached CEA to discuss the opportunity of developing an EV charging network in their region, similar to Accelerate Kootenays. With strategic siting and regional collaboration, such a network could bolster local economies, connect Southern Alberta to surrounding jurisdictions and highlight the growing renewable energy sector in the region. The City of Calgary, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat, as well as Medicine Hat College joined the collaboration to form the Peaks to Prairies partnership.
CEA facilitated the project from ideation through to project managing the installations on behalf of the advisory committee. In addition to sourcing and ultimately successfully securing funding to create the network, our staff, led by Project Manager, Megan Lohmann, also facilitated the RFP process to find an owner/operator partner and managed contracting.
Accelerate Kootenays EV Charging Network
Accelerate Kootenays was Canada’s first community driven strategy to build a clean transportation network, and was a catalyst for subsequent regional EV charging infrastructure strategies in other jurisdictions, including Southern Alberta (Peaks to Prairies), Central and Northern BC (Charge North) and Central/Northern Alberta. CEA facilitated the Accelerate Kootenays project from early feasibility, mapping and grant-writing through to managing installations, media releases and celebrations.
The driving principle that CEA followed in managing this complex, multi-partner project was that a community-led process would ensure solutions were relevant to the context - technology, service agreements, alerts, etc, would all be appropriate for the unique needs and opportunities of the Kootenays.
While the project started as a way to address the technical barrier to EV adaptation, it became an opportunity for tourism, economic development and emissions reductions across a large rural region. The impact of Accelerate Kootenays will continue for years to come and should be celebrated as a legacy project by the Regional Districts that demonstrated the leadership and innovation to make it happen.
Strategic siting of 13 DC fast chargers and 40 Level 2s ensured a network that holistically supported electric travel to and within the region. Balancing fast charging stations with Level 2 stations maximized project budget while providing tourism opportunities for host communities.
Alongside addressing access to charging infrastructure, the project team also identified the lack of awareness of EV technology in the region. In addition to a holistic multimedia and online campaign to bring awareness to EVs, CEA also leveraged the momentum of Accelerate Kootenays to build the #RuralEV Mobile Showcase to communities across the region.
Over the course of 2 years, CEA staff drove a Chevrolet Bolt to community events across the region, offering information as well as test drives. This proved to be a successful way of demystifying EVs, allowing Kootenay residents to be able to see, feel and experience EVs.
"after test driving your EV... we finally decided to just do it! We brought home our beautiful bouncing baby [Chevrolet] Bolt yesterday and we are so excited! Thank you for giving us the chance to try it out and the confidence to know we would be happy with it!"
A graphic summary of the #RuralEV Mobil Showcase is here.