July 23rd, 2019

Step toward an electric future?

By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on February 7, 2019.

Electric vehicles are still a long way from outnumbering traditional gas-powered automobiles, but a key step toward that possible future was taken this week in southern Alberta.

Thanks to a collaboration between civic administrations across the south and the Alberta government, plans are being put in motion for a 20-station, $2-million “Peaks to Prairies” network of automobile charging stations. The planned network will stretch from Medicine Hat to Crowsnest Pass, with stations in Taber, Fort Macleod and Pincher Creek along the way. Fast-charging stations are also slated for Warner, Cardston and Waterton Lakes National Park, as well as communities along Highways 2, 22 and 23.

Officials at Monday’s news conference at Lethbridge College announced that the first charging station will open this spring in Lethbridge, to be located, interestingly, near the Canadian Pacific Railway station on 1 Avenue South.

Such infrastructure is, of course, crucial for electric vehicles to become a solidly viable option for motorists on the Prairies where battery range between charges is a concern. Range issues are less worrisome for urban commuters.

Progress is being made on the range front. Green Car Reports indicates that within the next couple of years, at least six new electric car models are expected, all of them promising ranges of 200 miles (about 320 kilometres) or more. As part of the “Peaks to Prairies” announcement, five electric cars were on display – from automakers Tesla, Nissan, Hyundai and General Motors – and all had been driven to Lethbridge from Calgary or Edmonton for the event.

Of course, range isn’t the only hurdle for prospective buyers of electric vehicles. Electrics are pricier than their gas-powered cousins, though a Global News story reports that a Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast predicts electric vehicles will be as affordable as the gas variety by 2025. Tesla’s upcoming Model 3 is expected to start at around $35,000 US.

Some question the viability of the electric autos in Canada’s often harsh winter conditions, but a recent CBC News story out of Winnipeg indicated that, while the recent frigid weather is a drain on electric vehicles’ battery power, the vehicles still perform admirably overall – including warming up faster than their conventional gas-powered relatives.

Proponents of electric vehicles point out they can actually be more convenient when it’s considered that owners can install charging stations in their garage or just outside the home, and newly built condo buildings are providing charging areas in their parking lots.

The electric vehicle market may still be in its infancy, but it’s growing. The City of Lethbridge is looking into purchasing electric transit buses, and at Monday’s news conference, it was noted that there are about 100,000 electric-powered vehicles operating in Canada, with the number growing by 50 per cent each year.

As those numbers grow, there will be a need to also grow the necessary infrastructure by providing more charging stations for the vehicles. The announcement of the “Peaks to Prairies” network is a step in the right direction.

Comment on this editorial online at http://www.lethbridgeherald.


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4 Responses to “Step toward an electric future?”

  1. Does anyone remember the hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles of great interest in the 1990’s? They would recharge a lot faster than current fast charge electric vehicles. Trying to imagine the vast number of electrical charging stations and associated parking lots that would be needed to replace the very quick charge gasoline charger network we have installed now, should electric cars be deployed in significant numbers.

  2. snowman says:

    I have been watching electric cars Bolts and Tesla plugged into the electric car charging station at Peavey Mart for couple of years they are first and free. One must ask the question in Alberta what will the cost proposed electric car charging station on 1st ave. ? 1. will it be funded by carbon tax 2 Will there be a extra charge electric car for road tax. 3. Will the electric car owner be charged for separate charging station infrastructure and tax on their property like present Lng car owners required separate meter and tax.. What will electricity power rate be like California US 0.18 per kilowatt hour off peak (midnight to 5:00k) 0.46 per kilowatt hour peak hours( noon to 18.00 summer) majority of users charging rates would be in $0.22 per kilowatt hour to residential customers with smart meters. Of course the NDP will subsidize kilowatt hour rate with carbon tax like wind turbine operators to get cheap rate for electric car owners or go to Peavy Mart for free juice probably not even customers.

  3. meisplayfull2 says:

    From hearing and then watching USA videos on Tesla and and cold (zero c and below) i would be concerned about driving one here in our Lethbridge winter, especially this year. At -5 and using a 110 charge the car did not even charge. All the power went to the battery warmer and the interior warmer and many of the electronic sensors failed. A 220V charge is necessary and at best the driving range was cut from 250 miles to about 100. It is reported at -5c that the battery may charge to only 70% and then it takes 30% more power to drive the first 20 miles when cold. Are these cars really viable here in Canada or are they still a toy to zip around Lethbridge on a warm summer day?

  4. Seth Anthony says:

    @ meisplayfull

    In a cold climate, electric cars would only be viable if:

    1) The car is constantly parked in a heated environment, but that heat is derived from fossil fuels.

    2) The car doesn’t use archaic chemical based batteries, but rather solid state batteries. Solid state technology is the holy grail of energy storage. It’s in the infancy stage right now, but I suspect a breakthrough in this technology will occur within 2 years.