close up of power supply charger
Insurance company, Aviva Canada, is partnering with the non-profit, Earth Day Canada, to launch a program to install Level 2 charging stations in at least nine communities across the country. Photo: Aviva Canada

Charged for Change is a $3-million program from insurance company Aviva and non-profit Earth Day Canada to help underserved communities gain access to charging infrastructure

Insurance company Aviva Canada is partnering with the non-profit Earth Day Canada to launch a program to install Level 2 charging stations in at least nine communities across the country.

The program, called Charged for Change, will distribute a total of $3 million over the next three years. The funding will be distributed to selected applicants from “underserved communities” — defined as municipalities or Indigenous communities with fewer than 100,000 residents and with less than one public charging station per 8,610 people. Eligible communities can receive six to 10 Level 2 chargers.

“As an auto insurer with net-zero and sustainability ambitions, we are seeing changes in customer behaviour. What we know is that, in underserved communities, the lack of EV charging infrastructure is an impediment. It puts people off and makes them second guess the benefits of owning electric vehicles,” says Jason Storah, CEO of Aviva in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada.

“So for us, [we want] to help get rid of those impediments and get rid of some of that nervousness — particularly in areas that are underserved.”

Rollout starts in Ontario

During the first year of funding, selection will be restricted to three communities in Ontario.

“We’re starting in Ontario because we’re just trying to roll it out in a slightly more focused way before we think about nationally and shore-to-shore,” explains Storah. “But I would fully expect that the $3 million is going to be spread across the country.”

The program funding will be capped at $750,000 per year. Each successful applicant can receive up to $250,000 per project (or a limit of $40,000 per charging station) to cover 100 per cent of the costs for the charger equipment and installation. If there is leftover funding available after each year, it can be rolled on into the next.

In order to qualify for the program, communities must be able to cover all upfront costs of the charging stations, explains Valérie Mallamo, executive director of Earth Day Canada in an interview with Electric Autonomy. The program will then guarantee 100 per cent reimbursement within 60 days of when the claims were made.

“The idea is by the end of the three years that we awarded the maximum amount that we could,” says Mallamo.

“We also wanted to make sure that the available funds have a measurable impact. To be visible and recognizable it’s best to have many charging stations in a limited number of communities so that it actually makes a difference in that community.”

Utilizing Earth Day Canada’s expertise

The Charge for Change program is Aviva’s first foray into financing EV charging infrastructure. To help set up the program and provide counsel, the company decided to approach Earth Day Canada because of its experience launching an EV fast-charging network across Quebec and New Brunswick.

“As a result of that experience, we’ve got to know a lot about the space — the actors, the key players, what are the trends and the difficulties and challenges,” says Mallamo. “We provided two things to Aviva: knowledge of the marketplace and the fact that we’re a non-profit organization that’s really working to help organizations reduce environmental impact.”

Earth Day Canada will be responsible for distributing the funds of the program and helping communities through the application process. Selection is based on the overall cost of the initiative and what the projected impact will be in the community.

“There is a requirement for the city to share data on how much usage, so we’ll be able to monitor what the actual impact was of installing that unit over a certain number of years,” says Mallamo.

Earth Day Canada will also be looking at the proposed locations of the charging stations per application to determine if they will be easily accessible for users.

“We’re going to be assessing the selected location — are they properly identified locations? Is it going to be maintenance assumed by the city? We want to make sure that everything is there to facilitate access and ensure that there’s maximum uptake and that people can use it,” says Mallamo.

“I think there’ll be a hard call in some cases, but we’re trying to find a robust criterion that makes it a legitimate choice and that it is truly going to be supportive of that community.”

Communities interested can start submitting applications through the Charged for Change homepage as of January 3, 2023. The window for submissions closes on March 22, 2023.