Electric-car chargers land at Stevens Pass
While the west coast snowpack is sticking around longer than usual, climate change is still a top concern for skiers and riders who want to make sure winters are packed with plenty of powder. And of all the things resort goers can do to reduce their own carbon footprints, carpooling or swapping out a fossil fuel-powered vehicle for a hybrid or straight electric one are some of the most potent strategies.
Now, Stevens Pass, Wash. skiers and riders will be able to charge up their hybrid and electric vehicles while they log laps at one of the Northwest's legendary freeride playgrounds. Opened on June 2, the two charging stations -- appropriately mounted on an old chair lift arm -- juice up to two cars each.
"As an environmentally-aware ski resort, global warming is our biggest concern: we know it's human-driven and addressing it is critical to our future as a snow-related industry," says Ross Freeman, Stevens Pass Environment & Sustainability Manager. "Providing our guests with more options to get to the hill without using fossil fuels is important for us because we have decided that protecting and restoring the fragile natural resources that have provided us our livelihood for the past 75 years is the least we can do."
The two stations, supplied by Coulomb Technologies as part of their ChargePoint Network, can supply a "Level 2" charge of 240 Volts, or a "trickle" charge of 120 Volts. Fully electric cars can add 15 and 30 miles of driving range for every hour of Level 2 charging, providing enough range over a day of charging for full electric drivers wanting to make the trip to Stevens from the Seattle area, and according to plugincars.com, from as far away as Portland, Ore. and Vancouver, B.C.
The electric vehicle charging station is the latest in Stevens Pass's environmental efforts, which also include on-site composting of most of the resort's food service wastes and offsetting 100 percent of its energy use solely with renewable energy credits from windpower. The charging station is part of a joint effort by the Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State Department of Commerce to create the Nation's first "electric highway," connecting points up and down the I-5 corridor with stations for electric vehicle drivers.
"Launching an EV initiative was a natural step for us," says Freeman. "Seattle is a test market for the new Nissan Leaf; the Puget Sound Region, where most of our guests live, is a tech-savvy, early-adopter locale; our electricity comes from clean, low-impact hydropower provided by the mighty Columbia River; and our State is embracing the electric highway concept."
Carpooling is still a great way to go, and Stevens has stepped up the options even further for skiers and riders trying to tread lightly on their way to shredding deeply.
Should other ski resorts jump on the bandwagon? Probably, but not without asking where they get their electricity from in the first place -- if its from a dirty source like coal, then charging up a car isn't much better than filling up at the gas pump: "I would certainly encourage other resorts to consider EV's for the obvious localized air quality improvements," says Freeman, "but in terms of carbon footprint, it's important to be aware of what fuel generates the electricity in your region."