July 18th, 2024

EV charging initiative hopes to energize southern Alberta

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on February 5, 2022.

Herald photo by Al Beeber A fast-charging station is seen behind the Lethbridge Health Unit downtown.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

An electric tidal wave is rolling over the automotive industry and SouthGrow Regional Economic Development is ready to make a splash in it thanks to a federal investment.
The federal government is investing $2 million in the SouthGrow region to support the deployment and installation of new electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
This money will pay for new charging stations in the region as more vehicles go electric. By 2035, the federal government has mandated that at all new cars and light trucks sold in Canada must be zero net emission.
SouthGrow has partnered with the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre on the infrastructure project, said SouthGrow Regional Initiative executive director Peter Casurella Friday.
Under the program, municipalities will be eligible to receive matching funds from the province for the cost of buying and installing EV charging stations. Institutions and businesses in SouthGrow communities will get first access to partial funding before the program opens up across the province.
Under the program, institutions and businesses can receive up to 46 per cent of the costs of the charging stations.
Depending on the level of charging unit, costs for purchase and installation can run around $100,000 for a Neve 2 station to about $160,000 for a high-end Level 3 station.
On the other hand, home charging stations, which Casurella describes as similar to a home dryer plug, can cost about $7,500.
The type of station impacts the amount of time electric vehicles can be charged. With a 240-volt outlet that powers a dryer charging times will be significantly slower than by using a DC fast charger.
The City of Lethbridge currently supports charging stations at the Alberta Health Unit on 1 Ave. S. and at the ATB Centre in West Lethbridge.
The downtown station has two fast chargers while the ATB Centre has four level 2 chargers.
There are also several other charging stations in the city which can be found via Google search.
SouthGrow, in partnership with Atco Electric, runs the charger behind Chapters by the Health Unit, said Casurella.
There are a total of 20 chargers across southern Alberta that SouthGrow was behind getting operational.
Those were a pilot project which helped prepare the region so people with electric vehicles could travel to the area, Casurella said.
At the time they were installed “there wasn’t enough infrastructure for people really to travel around southern Alberta. So we were well positioned to go after this project when it came and we were successful in our application,” Casurella added.
Two organizations in the province got funding, said Casurella.
The University of Lethbridge “signed up on Day One. They’re going be taking the max amount they can because they’re ready to install chargers across the University of Lethbridge grounds,” he said.
The funding is available for “any kind of charging infrastructure that people want to put in, businesses or institutions. People can apply for this to put these kinds of things onto apartment buildings, as well,” he added.
Successful recipients can put pay stations on the chargers.
“This is really about accelerating the pace of change in southern Alberta and providing infrastructure to match the mandate,” he said.
Alberta has some of the highest charging prices in Canada but those prices are still lower than paying for fuel, he said. But a vehicle can be charged for about $20 an hour at a fast-charging station, he said.

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