Electric vehicle charging stations are becoming more common. But are they more reliable?

·3 min read
An electric vehicle charging station is pictured under solar panel near BCIT in Burnaby, B.C., in 2020.  (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
An electric vehicle charging station is pictured under solar panel near BCIT in Burnaby, B.C., in 2020. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Municipalities in Nova Scotia — large and small — are starting to install electric vehicle charging stations. At least one driver is hoping they will be well maintained.

The town of Mahone Bay will have eight units by the end of December.

According to the mayor, it makes sense to encourage people to consider electric vehicles because Mahone Bay has its own utility and 84 per cent of the power comes from wind and solar.

"I think the municipalities are the ones that can provide leadership," said David Devenne, "Especially the ones that have their own utilities, we can have an impact on both ends."

Halifax has just adopted an electric vehicle strategy. It includes plans to install 1,000 charging stations over the next 10 years. There are currently more than 100 of them across the province.

An electric vehicle driver from Halifax hopes the new charging units will have ongoing maintenance.

Shannon Bradley bought an electric vehicle in April 2020. Five months later, she tried to attend a family function in the Parrsboro area.

Bradley planned to charge the vehicle in Masstown but the charging station did not work. She backtracked to Truro, then to Stewiacke, to try to use units, but they didn't work either.

"So we took our bawling, crying kids back home," she said.

Bradley said she has seen comments from other electric vehicle drivers who have had problems with a variety of the charging stations.

"Either because their app isn't working, or their plastic card isn't working or the charger itself is out of order," said Bradley.

Thomas Arnason McNeil, the Ecology Action Centre's sustainable transportation co-ordinator, said he hasn't heard of ongoing issues with the chargers.

"Sometimes it's a matter of education or confidence using the technology," said Arnason McNeil.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

There are three different levels of chargers as well as different apps for finding and using the stations. The Tesla car company also has its own charging units, as does Petro Canada and Nova Scotia Power.

According to Leithan Slade, a spokesman for Petro Canada, its network is reliable.

"However, we are still learning about the chargers," Slade wrote in an email.

Petro-Canada has chargers in Halifax and Stewiacke. According to the company, the Halifax location has experienced some issues and maintenance has been affected by a parts shortage, but the Stewiacke site "continues to perform well."

Nova Scotia Power has 25 charging stations across the country. A spokesperson for the utility said they are monitored "24/7" and have regular maintenance.

"We take the reliability of our network very seriously," wrote Jacqueline Foster.

Brynn Budden, an HRM spokesperson, said in an email that the municipality plans to have maintenance agreements with the manufacturer of the charging units.

Devenne said he thinks any issues with the charging stations are because "it's early days for the industry" and he expects expertise to develop.

Currently there are about 500 electric vehicles on the road in Nova Scotia, but the province has just passed legislation making it mandatory for 30 per cent of all new car sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

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