Yukon invests millions in EV infrastructure, expands ZEV incentives in latest budget
Mar 17, 2022
Mehanaz Yakub

More EV chargers, new funding for a zero-emission vehicle incentive program that includes snowmobiles, motorcycles and e-bikes, and electrical grid upgrades all feature prominently in Yukon’s 2022-2023 budget

The Yukon government’s 2022-2023 budget includes significant spending on EV infrastructure, as part of the territory’s Our Clean Future strategy.

More EV chargers, new funding for a zero-emission vehicle incentive program that includes snowmobiles, motorcycles and e-bikes, and electrical grid upgrades all feature prominently in Yukon’s 2022-2023 budget

The newly released Yukon government 2022-2023 budget came with a promise to invest $80.3 million to address the climate crisis and support initiatives outlined in the territory’s Our Clean Future strategy — including continued investment in the electrification of transportation.

Of the total funding amount, $2.1 million will be allocated for zero-emission vehicle incentives and to expand Yukon’s network of electric vehicle chargers in communities and along the territory’s highways.

“This comprehensive, 10-year strategy was developed in partnership with municipalities and First Nations across the Yukon,” said premier Sandy Silver during the budget speech in Whitehorse.

“For the first time in the territory’s history, it identifies clear targets to reduce the Yukon’s greenhouse gas emissions; ensure Yukoners have access to reliable, affordable and renewable energy; adapt to the impacts of climate change, and build a green economy.”

The territory’s budget is the latest in a series of announcements coming from Canada’s northern jurisdictions that demonstrate a strong commitment from non-urban areas to meet climate targets and reap the benefits of a transition to zero-emission mobility. Of the three territories, Yukon is a leader in both investments and EV adoption rates.

EV charging investments

The Yukon government says it would like to see 10 per cent of light-duty vehicle sales be zero-emission by 2025 and 30 per cent by 2030, or have at least 4,800 zero-emission vehicles registered by that year. There are currently 130 registered EVs in Yukon.

In order to support these vehicles, significant public infrastructure needs to be built.

“A total of 19 fast chargers will be installed by the end of this year to enable
electric vehicle travel to all of our road accessible communities,” said Silver.

Earlier this year, the Yukon government received $1 million from Natural Resources Canada’s Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP) to install 200 public EV charging stations.

Following that announcement, the territory then received close to $600,000 through NRCan’s Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative to build 14 EV fast chargers in communities and remote locations. The territorial government will spend around $1.7 million on those installations as well.

During the budget speech, Silver added that the government will be expanding investments into the Good Energy rebate program to “help more First Nations, municipalities and businesses to install electric vehicle chargers.”

That program covers 75 per cent or up to a maximum of $7,500 of the costs to install an EV charger at a private business and 90 per cent up to $9,000 for First Nations governments and municipalities.

The program also offers a $5,000 incentive to purchase a new EV. Additionally, the government provides rebates of $2,500 for new zero-emission snowmobiles, 25 per cent of the cost of a new electric motorcycle or up to $2,000, and 25 per cent of an electric bike’s cost, to a maximum of $750 (or up to $1,500 for cargo e-bikes).

By comparison, the Northwest Territories also offers a $5,000 rebate for a new zero-emission vehicle as part of the territory’s Arctic Energy Alliance EV rebate program. And the pressure has been mounting for NWT to start offering rebates for snowmobiles and e-bikes, with proponents pointing to Yukon as the example to follow.

Currently, Nunavut offers no incentives for any type of zero-emission vehicle, nor does it currently have any public EV charging infrastructure.

Upgrades to the grid

Yukon’s budget announcement also identified electricity grid infrastructure as a key area to decarbonize.

Yukon’s Atlin Hydro Expansion project will receive $15 million for a three-year project to increase the amount of dependable renewable hydroelectricity available in Yukon, help meet peak power demands during the winter months and expand interest in electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The project is, in total, a $50-million financial commitment outlined in the government’s 10-Year Renewable Electricity Plan.

When completed, the project will add around 8.5 megawatts to Yukon’s grid and would generate over 31 gigawatt-hours of hydroelectricity each winter — enough to power nearly 3,750 houses every year.

“Earlier this year, Yukon Energy signed an Electricity Purchase Agreement with Tlingit Homeland Energy Limited Partnership to increase the supply of dependable renewable electricity in the Yukon,” said Silver.

“This is an exciting opportunity for the Yukon to expand our renewable energy capacity in partnership with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation while reducing the territory’s emissions and ensuring energy remains affordable for Yukoners.”

This emphasis on bringing clean energy to Yukon falls in line with the federal government’s recently announced intention to establish a Clean Electricity Standard. The initiative points to an urgent need to wean northern communities — including those in the territories — off diesel generators and provide reliable, non-emitting energy sources.

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