The announcements — one in Saskatchewan, two in Ontario — signal growing interest on the part of regional and provincial utilities to lead in the deployment of robust public charging services to support EV adoption
In back-to-back-to-back announcements, Alberta’s Epcor Utilities, Saskatchewan’s SaskPower and Ontario’s Alectra Utilities say they have received or set aside funding to install hundreds of public Level 2 and DC fast chargers across Saskatchewan and in parts of Ontario to provide more charging options for highway EV drivers and those in underserviced areas.
Alectra and Epcor are receiving $2 million apiece from Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) Zero-Emissions Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) to finance the installation of 340 and 200 EV charging stations (both Level 2 and DC fast chargers), respectively. SaskPower is investing $2 million in the SaskPower Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program to install 20 DC fast stations along highway corridors in the province.
“One of the best ways we can cut pollution and fight climate change is by making the switch to electric vehicles,” said Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change in a press release. “[But] beyond helping to make electric vehicles as affordable as the conventional alternative, we know it’s also about making sure electric vehicles are convenient to charge.”
In addition to the three announcements from these Canadian utilities, Ontario’s Ivy Charging Network — a Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation joint venture — announced last week that it had in opened six fast charger station installations at OnRoute rest stops, part of its plan to install Ivy network fast chargers at all 23 OnRoute locations along Highways 400 and 401 in the province.
“These new fast-charging locations will give drivers the confidence they need on their road trips,” said Michael Kitchen, general manager of Ivy Charging Network in a press release.
Ivy Network received $8 million in funding from NRCan’s Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative when the OnRoute plan was approved late last year.
Federal funding, local expertise
Funding from the federal government has been critical to helping support the rollout of charging networks across Canada, especially in smaller communities or more remote locations. Leveraging the expertise of utilities in building local infrastructure to maximize the impact of Canadian public monies investing in EV charging has proved a successful formula for the government.
Epcor plans to install up to 200 public Level 2 chargers and DC fast chargers in rural counties surrounding London, Ont., and in the South Georgian Bay area, while Alectra will add another 340 EV charging stations across the province. Both programs require eligible private and public sector organizations to apply as partners who will be responsible for provided the locations, covering the balance of costs and operating the stations.
“Alectra is proud to support NRCan in making EV charging infrastructure more accessible in Canada,” said Brian Bentz, Alectra’s president and CEO in a press statement. “We’ve been leading the charge in providing clean energy solutions to the communities we serve, and we’re excited to facilitate another program that enables our communities to become more environmentally friendly.”
Last month, Edmonton-based Epcor announced its Go EV program (also with NRCan funding behind it) to provide financial support to install EV chargers for businesses, municipalities and multi-unit residential buildings in Southern Ontario and the areas of Collingwood, Thornbury, Creemore, Stayner, Kincardine, and Aylmer. The program is accepting applications until March 31 and the government’s investment will cover half of the costs and up to $100,000 per project. The 200 EV chargers are expected to be up and running by March 2023.
“Working to reduce our environmental footprint is a priority Epcor shares with the communities we serve, and we are eager to help provide more options for commuters to energize their vehicles,” said Susannah Robinson, vice-president, Ontario region, Epcor in a press note.
“The Epcor Go EV program is our latest endeavour to support communities toward a sound energy transition for the future. This work will also help us stay at the forefront of providing energy services to our customers and the province.”
Charging infrastructure in Saskatchewan
In Saskatchewan, the provincial utility SaskPower also made an announcement that it will provide funding of $2 million to support businesses looking to build fast-charging stations. The money will help cover the costs of 20 stations to be built along major highway corridors.
“Though there are still a relatively small number of EVs on Saskatchewan roads, it’s expected that this market will grow,” said Troy King, acting president and CEO at SaskPower. “It’s important to prepare for a future where more customers drive electric vehicles and expect the infrastructure to be in place to do so.”
The utility is especially interested in putting up chargers in areas that are lacking infrastructure, such as Highway 11 and Highway 16, as well as some secondary highways that connect to major centres in the province.
Businesses and organizations interested in hosting a charging station are being encouraged to contact SaskPower to set up a pre-application meeting. Those accepted will have to pay for a portion of the charging station and will be responsible for its installation and operation.