Calgary·Q&A

Electric car chargers spread across Alberta in light of new incentives to ditch fossil fuels

A new network of electric charging stations is growing across Alberta and into B.C.

Federal government offers $5K as part of its plan to tackle climate change

Electric car charging station in Toronto, Ont. (David Donnelly/CBC)

A new network of electric charging stations is growing across Alberta and into B.C.

The federal government recently announced incentives for people to buy electric vehicles as part of its plans to tackle climate change. It's offering $5,000 if you buy an electric car under a certain price point.

Jen Grebeldinger, the communications lead for the Community Energy Association, which facilitates the Peaks to Prairies charging network, spoke to the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday about the growth in charging stations across southern Alberta.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: What do you make of the announcement by the federal government?

A. It's going to be a huge boost for electric vehicle sales. It's going to get to people who are already interested in these and those who are considering purchasing a new car and it's going to tip them over to it being a really great option.

Q: Do you know how they chose which vehicles were in and which vehicles were out, because I see both electric vehicles and some hybrids here?

A. This is in response to making sure it's not perceived that they're buying luxury cars for people who can really afford to pay the full price, so they've chosen full electric.

This is really linked to emissions. This is obviously very much tied to their climate plans and action plan. Plug-in hybrid vehicles have a lower, $2,500 incentive because, of course, they don't remove as many emissions from the roads.

The Chevy Bolt has an electric range of nearly 400 kilometres. (General Motors)

Q: If I buy an electric car, where can I charge it in Alberta?

A: There's two types of charging: Level 2 charging, which as you know is more of a full day, 240-volt charging, and then fast charging, which is really the one that people want when they're heading on the road for a trip.

Right now, fast charging is pretty isolated to city centres.

We've got one in Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, and then of course more on the B.C. side. In places like southern Alberta, there just isn't options for fast charging, so especially in the winter, if you have an electric car, it's really challenging to get out or into that region.

That's where Peaks to Prairies comes in to alleviate that barrier and facilitate regional travel with a fast charging network.

Q: Are you hoping to be that difference maker?

A: Yes. So the Peaks to Prairies network, which is really started by partners from that region, like the cities of Calgary, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat College. 

People want to travel to our region from Calgary, from Edmonton, from B.C., from Montana, but they can't get here. So that's where this network is going to put 20 fast chargers so that people from Calgary can get to Banff, can get to Canmore, can get down to Fort Macleod, Pincher Creek or Waterton. They have those options and they can travel where they want as opposed to where they must.

It does remove that "range anxiety," as it's called, from travelers.

Q: Do you charge by the charge?

A: The drivers will be charged a fee.

Q: How far away are you from making this network a reality?

A: We're about a month away from installing the first one. We launched the project in Lethbridge in February and that's going to be the first station.… We are anticipating all that 20 stations will be installed by December.

About the Author

Stephen Hunt

Digital Writer

Stephen Hunt is a digital writer at the CBC in Calgary. Email: stephen.hunt@cbc.ca

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.