Public asked to comment on electrification plans for Island-class ferries

The public is being invited to comment on B.C. Ferries’ plans to run its six new Island-class ferries on battery-electric power provided the federal government agrees to pay for charging infrastructure.

B.C. Ferries would like to see electrification of the first vessel complete in September 2022.

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By October 2024, upgrades to all six vessels and nine terminals would be complete, the B.C. Ferry Commission’s office said Thursday.

The company has been striving to reduce its environmental impact.

It said the Island-class electrification program would create jobs, reduce operating costs and provide quieter, cleaner service, and also cut total greenhouse-gas emissions by six per cent.

The program would only go ahead if federal money is obtained.

Projected costs were not included in a B.C. Ferries submission to the Ferry Commission office.

Comments can be emailed to info@bcferrycommission.ca or sent by traditional mail to the B.C. Ferry Commission, PO Box 9279 Stn., Prov Govt. Victoria, B.C. V8W 9J7.

The Coastal Ferry Act requires major capital expenditures to be approved by the Ferry Commission.

B.C. Ferries has two of the new Island-class hybrid diesel-electric ferries in service. Two more are on their way across the Atlantic Ocean heading to the Panama Canal and then on to Victoria.

Another two Island-class ferries are under construction in Romania.

The goal has been for all Island-class ferries to be modified to run solely on electric power.

On-shore infrastructure required to charge the vessels is not yet in place.

The Ferry Commission’s office said the plans would mean that nine terminals would be upgraded to provide shore-based rapid charging capability for ferries running from Powell River to Texada Island, Nanaimo to Gabriola Island, Campbell River to Quadra Island, and Port McNeill to Malcolm and Cormorant Islands.

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