Get ready to plug into the gas station of the future

·3 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – The year 2035 isn’t far off. That’s the year Canada is aiming at, to shift to zero-emission electric vehicles and eliminate combustible engine-run cars and light trucks.

Bruce County council heard a presentation from Jessica Linthorne, director of the clean energy program for the Nuclear Innovation Institute (NII), on the shift to electric vehicles (EVs). She was backed by the NII’s Chad Richards.

They noted the industry itself is driving the change to electric vehicles, evidenced by the electric version of the Ford F150 next year.

A survey conducted by Plug ‘n Drive (EV industry leader) showed where the area needs to make changes in preparation for the shift to EVs.

Linthorne said there’s a need for more chargers in the Grey-Bruce-Huron region. It’s long been a popular tourist destination.

As more people shift to EVs, drivers will need public charging infrastructure.

Survey data indicates 37.5 per cent of EV drivers are taking trips of four days or more. The problem is, 83 per cent have the perception it’s difficult or very difficult to charge a vehicle in Grey-Bruce-Huron, although there are, in fact, 111 charging stations in the area – 36 in each of Bruce and Huron, and 39 in Grey. Twenty-one of them are at highway stops, and 43 are on-street. Twenty-seven are overnight and 20 are for business use.

The survey indicated EV drivers tend to be affluent and able to travel, with 56.5 per cent taking their EVs when travelling, meaning access to public charging stations matters when someone is deciding where to travel. Seventy per cent said in the survey they choose or give preference to locations where they know there’s access to public charging.

And it has to be the right kind of charging station. Drivers want to make a quick stop at a level three (high level) charging station and continue on, or a level two on-street charging station near local attractions.

“High level is what they want,” Linthorne said.

Level one chargers are for at-home use and take an hour for eight kilometres of driving range. Level two take an hour for 30 km of driving range. Level three provide 250 km of driving range in an hour.

Richards outlined three key recommendations – develop a clear and co-ordinated strategy for installing EV charging capacity across the region, collaborating wherever possible; provide indoor charging in winter to reduce the effects of cold; and focus on investing in level three charging stations.

Linthorne provided some additional recommendations – work with restaurants, tourism operators and other points of interest including provincial and national parks to install level two charging infrastructure; work with regional partners – Grey-Bruce-Huron should continue to work with Wellington County to create an EV charging corridor from Highway 401 to the tip of the Bruce Peninsula (“Wellington County is doing some great work, and is using some of our data,” said Linthorne); communicate with EV drivers through tourism marketing and owner groups; and develop a greater awareness with auto mechanics about the emerging need for expertise in servicing EVs.

During the question-and-answer session that followed, County Coun. Luke Charbonneau, Saugeen Shores, commented Richards has been advising the museum committee on an electric bookmobile. He wondered why the private sector isn’t getting involved in providing charging stations similar to gas stations.

Richards said there is some private sector involvement, primarily Tesla.

There was some discussion on a federal funding program that’s available to municipalities, and the cost of a level three charging station.

“We need to prepare for 2035,” said Warden Janice Jackson, South Bruce Peninsula. “It’s not far away.”

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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