‘Why hasn’t someone already done this?’ I asked Sun Country Highway President Kent Rathwell.
His company makes electric car charging stations which can juice you up in as little as three hours, depending on your electric vehicle.
I didn’t mean to ask why he pushed snow through the Rogers Pass in an electric Tesla sports car with almost no ground clearance, which he did on an incredibly snowy day in late December. The bottom of the driver’s bucket seat doesn’t look much higher than the heel of my boot; the car had crusted slush in the grille.
I meant why hasn’t anyone installed free, public, electric, fast-charging stations like the new one at the Best Western Plus in Revelstoke?
He asked me if it’s on the record, and I wonder if I’m going to get a ‘Who Killed the Electric Car’-like conspiracy theory (which he alluded to, but then kept on message).
“The main reason is because we simply decided to put our money where our mouth is,” he said.
Rathwell was on a coast-to-coast drive to promote his company’s network of about 100 charging stations placed on the Trans-Canada, which Sun Country Highway bills as the “world’s longest [and] greenest highway.”
It makes it possible to drive an electric car from the Maritimes to the Pacific coast without paying for fuel. Like at the Best Western Plus in Revelstoke, the owners of the charging stations pick up the tab for the electricity, offering it as a free service.
What about Sun Country? How do they make money?
Rathwell explained he jumped into it to revolutionize the transportation industry. He was driven by revolutionary green fervour and didn’t really have a business model to start with when he commenced earlier this year. He explained his background in the green sector, saying he’d moved to Saskatchewan several years ago to help “turn it into a have province” by undertaking industrial greening projects, such as greening poultry production.
I didn’t really take his background all in; he’s distracted and seems in his own world – a man driven. When I arrived at the Best Western, he was huddled in the lobby foyer next to a wall socket with a member of his support team; they’d had charging problems with his cell phone and were desperately trying to juice it up.
Once we got the brief interview going, Rathwell was distracted by a couple of phone calls now that he had power. In ironic harmony, I discovered all of the rechargeable batteries on my audio recorder had died once I got there, so I only sketched out the details in a notebook.
His media release about the coast-to-coast venture contains some of the type of visionary statements he made to me:
“We have embarked on this project to help raise awareness on the capabilities of electric vehicles as efficient and exciting vehicles to drive. Our objectives are not only to reduce carbon emissions but to show the world how renewable energies combined with sustainable forms of transportation can be the stimulus for the next industrial revolution,” Rathwell is quoted as saying.
The plan now is to make money by selling the charging stations, Rathwell explained.
They look a lot like a wall-mounted tire pump. An industrial hose attached to a box with a few buttons. You can buy one for your hotel, motel, home, businessplace or wherever for less than a thousand dollars.
Saying goodbye, I recommend he take a drive by the Revelstoke Dam the next morning before he departs. I noted the parallels of visionary electric energy infrastructure creation between his project and the dam. Noting the blowing snow, I also warned him to check for avalanche control in the Eagle Pass before he departs.
He won’t visit the dam, or be hindered by the snow, because he plans to depart by 5 a.m., he said. He had a schedule to keep.