News Local

City will look at electric chargers

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

EV charging station (File photo)

EV charging station (File photo)

The switch could be flicked on new vehicle charging stations in Barrie's 2017 budget.


Councillors have approved staff looking into the feasibility of installing level 2 EV (electric vehicle) charging stations for both Barrie residents and city operations.

“I realized we needed staff to develop a feasibility/business plan if we want to be ready for when EVs become common-place,” said Coun. Sergio Morales.

“This is not a question of 'if it's coming' but a matter of how quick the uptake will be. Having a plan means not missing out on any future funding available, knowing how to roll them out to where people will use them the most, as well as being able to make the necessary preparations for their effect on the power grid.”

The electric vehicle chargers Ontario grant program is working with 24 public and private sector partners to eventually create a network of electric vehicle stations in cities, along highways, at workplaces and public places across this province. Applicants could apply for funding as much as 100% of the total costs to purchase and install an EV charger.

But launched in December 2015 with applications accepted until February 2016, it didn't meet the city's time lines or parameters.

“They (provincial officials) weren't looking for 100 municipalities to apply, they were looking for somebody to put together a provincial grid,” said Barry Thompson, Barrie's manager of energy management.

“I'm assuming with their (the Liberal government's) climate change plan, there will be more grant money probably coming forward and certainly this (Morales') motion will now give us a rational for going ahead, and if there is something, we would certainly apply for it.”

The Ward 9 councillor's motion asks for a comparison of free and paid charging station use, how other municipalities operate their programs, possible locations, costs, potential partnerships to help pay for capital and operating expenses and a strategy that would provide for the installation in multi-residential developments.

“The city will need to develop a balance between continuing the tradition of providing public infrastructure, which will soon include EV charging stations, while also doing its due diligence to reducing or eliminating costs to taxpayers,” Morales said.

“With potential continuation of subsidy funding, potential partners such as Metrolinx, and a parking strategy deficit and sponsorship policy that together have the potential to see EV charging stations installed throughout the city at low or no cost, can we achieve both? Absolutely, they go hand in hand.”

There are two different types of EV chargers.

Level 2 EVs can charge a car in three to five hours, but a level 3 EV can charge a car in less than 30 minutes. There's a corresponding difference in costs too; a level 2 charging station is $8,000-$20,000, while a Level 3 can cost $80,000-$100,000.

The County of Simcoe received $267,350 in provincial funding for three level 3 electric vehicle chargers.

There are also planned EV chargers at the McDonalds Restaurant on Bayfield Street in Barrie, as well as Tim Hortons in Alcona, Elmvale, Midland and Collingwood.

The province says level 3 EV stations are generally to be strategically placed - near highways, for example - to promote inter-city travel where cars can get up to 80% charge within 20 to 30 minutes.

Level 2 EV stations are generally to go close to major trip attractions and workplaces to promote in-city travel, and charging for people who plan to spend more time at a given location.

Use of all the charging stations will be carefully monitored, the province says, to help it better understand if there are service gaps or areas where there are too many charging stations or if they are underutilized.

Close to 500 charging stations – more than 200 level 3 fast-chargers and almost 300 level 2 ones – are to be installed across Ontario at more than 250 locations.

All EV stations under this program are to be available for public use no later than March 31, 2017 and would be the largest public network of level 3 stations in Canada.

There are nearly 7,000 electric vehicles currently on Ontario roads.


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