Electric-vehicle advocates are hoping new federal and provincial funding for charging stations will bring more locations to northern Alberta.
A new provincial and federal funding agreement could double the public electric-charging infrastructure in Alberta by 2023.
William York, a board member of the Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta, said the funding announcement Jan. 25 is wonderful.
“It’s exactly what we need. We just hope that the program is administered [in a way] that ensures geographic spacing of the charging stations,” York said.
Right now the province has very good coverage for fast-charging stations south of Edmonton, York said, and most of the infrastructure is concentrated in and around Calgary.
“We need a whole lot more around Highway 2 … but the northern part of the province needs some love,” York said.
The federal funding will come out of Natural Resources Canada’s Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) and will join with funding from the existing Electric Vehicle Charging rebate program, which was set up by the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre.
Some $2 million will be kicked over by the federal government, with $1.4 million in funding from the province, bringing the total to $3.4 million to fund charging stations across the province.
The funding will allow for municipalities and non-profit community organizations to purchase and install electric-vehicle charging stations, which will be a combination of fast-charging stations and level two charging stations, which charge vehicles a little more slowly.
York said charging stations are currently built by a mix of private companies and some municipalities, but the best way to get more coverage is to allow for communities to build the stations.
“They're capable of seeing on longer-term horizons than private companies can. Private companies, they have more pressure to make a return on investment immediately, whereas municipalities, they're allowed to see the greater good,” York said.
A big reason people are shifting to electric vehicles is because of climate change, York said, and with how the electric-vehicle economy is structured, it doesn’t necessarily incentivize companies to make decisions to meet climate goals.
“Municipalities and governments are allowed to think on those longer-term horizons and make those decisions [around climate-change goals],” York said.
Municipalities can focus on local needs, York said, such as local air quality, which electric vehicles improve because they don’t have a tailpipe, York said.
The province currently has 255 electric vehicle chargers across Alberta, including both private and public chargers, and the funding will help double the publicly-funded chargers.
The new chargers are expected to be installed by 2023.