This article is part of a series called How communities across Canada are electrifying their municipal fleets. Each article explores an innovative approach to electrifying municipal fleets. The series features inspiring ideas and projects being implemented in Canadian cities and towns of all sizes.
The District of West Vancouver is a municipality in British Columbia serving over 44,000 residents. In 2016, West Vancouver adopted the Corporate Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP), which included an objective to adopt a Green Fleet Purchasing Policy to prioritize EVs. Despite barriers described below, the District succeeded in achieving the following:
- Two electric vehicle (EV)-ready facilities with the first phase of chargers installed and readiness for an additional 8-10 Level 2 chargers.
- 11 new Level 2 charging heads (positioned to service 17 parking stalls, providing fleet parking flexibility).
- 5-year EV Supply Equipment (EVSE) contract in place for networked management.
- 5 EVs were ordered in 2021-22, and 13 EVs are anticipated in 2023-24.
In 2019, Council declared a climate emergency, which provided an opportunity to secure buy-in to overcome charging infrastructure barriers. The first step was to assess the electrical capacity of two key District facilities, which was possible thanks to one-time funding of $50,000 for an EV Charging Study for the District Fleet (EV CSDF), and capital funding of $250,000 - $350,000 to support EV-ready electrical work at the Municipal Hall and Operations Center. With funding to expedite charger installations, the Green Fleet Policy and Procurement Procedures were operationalized in 2021.
The main challenges were electrical capacity upgrades, COVID-19, and funding.
Electrical Capacity Upgrades
The inability to access power where chargers were needed, significant existing system loads, and panel deficiencies required necessary and expensive upgrades to the electrical systems to install EV fleet chargers at key facilities. Managing concurring activities such as contractor coordination and scheduling while various electrical and/or infrastructure upgrades were undertaken at each site simultaneously led to the need for Engineering, Facilities and Finance departments to oversee contractor coordination collectively.
The global pandemic affected the construction costs, raised prices of EV chargers, and increased the wait times for EVs. In addition, supply chain issues continue to impact the procurement of EV pick-ups and trucks.
Securing funding to overcome the charging barrier required a catalyst – which staff found in the Council’s climate emergency declaration. The EV CSDF was crucial in providing all involved staff with the technical understanding of available charger and vehicle technology, anticipated charging needs, and 20-year road maps under two emissions reduction scenarios. In 2022, Council adopted an Environmental Levy as an ongoing funding source to support future work on EV & charger purchases – removing the funding barrier.
The electrical capacity upgrades removed a significant barrier to fleet electrification and supports future EV adoption that further assists the achieving of the Corporate GHG reduction targets. Scenario 1 of the EV CSDF is geared to replace 55 existing fleet vehicles with EVs by 2030, resulting in an annual GHG reduction of 310 tonnes. There are also anticipated long-term operational benefits, such as reduced operating costs, that are associated with the transition to EVs and the use of newer technology.
An important lesson learned was leveraging momentum of the climate emergency declaration to move quickly, demonstrating near-term investment results. The Finance Department demonstrated strong support for EV-readiness work, providing procurement support and flexible funding solutions. In turn, this project demonstrated the scale of funding required to implement municipal climate action objectives. This supported the development of the District’s new Environmental Levy, which Council adopted to provide stable, longer-term funding for this type of work.
As vehicles begin to arrive, new lessons will be learned about operationalizing EVs in the fleet – charging management with staff, navigating charging requirements, potential impacts on staff parking, monitoring emissions and operating cost benefits.