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Canada Calling: VEIC’s Latest Collaborations North of the Border

Karen Glitman -

Vermont’s and eastern Canada’s energy futures are linked. Our ties as trade partners, for Canadian natural gas and electricity, are long-standing. As vital to our futures, however, is the collaboration of our regions on the demand side of the energy equation. With a shared commitment to environmental protection, similar weather, proportional rural populations, and an allied economic interest in travel across our mutual border, Vermont and neighboring provinces face common challenges and solutions in managing energy use. VEIC has long taken a leadership role in supporting provincial energy use reduction aims by lending our expertise in programming, planning, and best practices. Our involvement has reached across the spectrum of energy uses, whether regarding electricity, thermal energy, or – most recently – a lively and productive cross-border focus on transportation energy.

As VEIC’s Director of Transportation Efficiency, I’m one of a line of colleagues who have collaborated with stakeholders in numerous provinces. For example, the involvement of VEIC’s late co-founder, Blair Hamilton, was key to the 2010 formation of Efficiency Nova Scotia – an electricity efficiency services provider modeled after the VEIC-administered Efficiency Vermont. My team’s engagement with Canadian partners comes at an exciting time in the development of efficient transportation technologies and a promising moment of heightened commitment -- on both sides of the border – to overcoming obstacles to electric vehicle (EV) travel between Vermont and Canada.

Case in point: In October of this year, The Québec-Vermont Bio-Energy Forum was convened by Bishop’s University in collaboration with the governments of Quebec and Vermont, the University of Vermont, and the Université de Sherbrooke. This one-day forum provided an opportunity for entrepreneurs, policy makers, and members of the academic community to advance their understanding of potential opportunities for economic development that also will assist in meeting bio-energy challenges in both Quebec and Vermont. I was honored to be a part of this gathering, addressing green electricity in the transportation sector, as was Adam Sherman, of VEIC’s Biomass Energy Resource Center, who shared insights on bio-energy technologies.

October proved to be a turning point moment in cross-border EV travel, due to improvements to Quebec’s charging network to accommodate U.S. credit cards. This game changer for Vermont EV drivers comes on the heels of the opening of the Quebec-Vermont Electric Charging Corridor, providing 20+ EV charging stations linking Montreal and Burlington. This “green corridor”, which continues to expand, is the result of an agreement between the VEIC-led coalition Drive Electric Vermont and the Quebec-based public charging station network Electric Circuit. The corridor is the sole U.S. EV charging route to Canada east of the West Coast Electric Highway, which links Baja California to British Columbia.

VEIC’s ongoing EV research continues to draw interest north of the border. Recently, our team shared findings from research on optimal station siting – vital to EV adoption – as well as information on the latest generation of efficient charging stations at the 2013 Véhicules Électriques Conference in Quebec, hosted by Electric Mobility Canada, the voice of the country’s electric vehicle industry.

As I write, we’re incorporating information from a recent discussion with Hydro-Québec about their deployment and research, and groundwork is being laid for an upcoming visit to VEIC from the Quebec Department of Natural Resources Office of Energy Efficiency and Innovation to discuss transportation energy efficiency. Clearly, Vermont and eastern Canada are partners in energy management for the long haul. VEIC will continue to lend its voice to the effort.

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