Edmonton powers up electric vehicle charging rebate

Edmonton is moving forward with an electric vehicle rebate program over the next two years at a cost of $300,000. 

$300,000 program subsidizes fast-charging stations for homes, businesses

Electric vehicle chargers can be found in commercial parking lots and some municipally-owned properties around Canada. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Edmonton will continue to offer an electric vehicle charging station rebate over the next two years at a cost of $300,000. 

The rebate will help some make the jump to cleaner technology, Coun. Scott McKeen said Tuesday. 

"I think it helps people who are willing to take the risk of buying an EV at this time," McKeen said. "It still feels a little bit like they're early adopters of a technology that we know will continue to improve over the years." 

Council's executive committee voted in favour of the rebate Tuesday after agreeing in June to put the electric bicycle rebate on hold for two years. 

In June, the city was reporting bleak revenue forecasts amid the COVID-19 pandemic, McKeen said. 

"[The [electric bicycle rebate] didn't feel very democratic to me," McKeen said Wednesday. "They were $500-$600 for a bicycle, that can cost upwards of $4,000. I just thought that was beyond the capacity of most Edmontonians."

$600 for existing homes

Under the electric vehicle charging station rebate, residents in existing homes can apply for up to $600 or half of the cost of a charging station.

People in new homes may receive a $300 subsidy, up to half of the cost and commercial property owners may apply for up to $2,000. 

The program applies to Level 2 charging stations only, which require a 208 volt or 240 volt outlet and are much faster than a traditional Level 1 that plugs into the wall, according to Epcor. 

To be eligible for the rebate, a professional electrician must install the charging station in a garage.

The committee's vote Tuesday was based on a motion proposed by Coun. Andrew Knack in the summer to defer the program. 

Knack said he believed the program would have marginal impact on the city's overall strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"You don't want to lose the plot in the sense of we have a much bigger issue. And if this isn't really even going to help us achieve that, is that the right thing to be investing that money in?" Knack said Wednesday. 

Knack supports investing in energy transition but said the city has to focus on what is most efficient. 

"I wasn't confident that was going to be the case."

Shifting to electric vehicles critical

It's a small part of the city's energy transition strategy but a necessary one for the long-term, Coun. Ben Henderson said. 

"We know shifting people over to electric vehicles is going to be really critical if we're going to get to our targets," Henderson said Wednesday. 

The city's updated energy transition strategy aims to align with the international standard of limiting global warming to 1.5 C. 

According to the city, EVs emit up to 33 per cent fewer emissions than a gas car.

"The cost of the charging stations is an impediment so the more charging stations we can get in the city, the easier it is for people to be able to make the choice," Henderson said. 

Energy transition

The committee also agreed Tuesday to give the city more time to prepare its energy transition strategy.

Under a city charter agreement with the Alberta government, the city is required to establish a climate change mitigation plan by Dec. 31. 

Outlined in a report this week, administration asked for an extension. 

"Due to the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, administration is unable to meet this Dec. 31, 2020, deadline," the report states. 

Part of the work inquires input from industry and the public.

From September 2019 to May 2020, the city held 28 events to listen to what people think is needed to transition to a low carbon city. 

"While significant engagement has taken place, some engagement was paused due to the pressures that COVID-19 placed on safety and the capacity of the community," the report says.

The committee agreed to ask the province's minister of municipal affairs for an extension until next June. 

Edmonton's existing energy strategy has focused on expanding the LRT, encouraging active transportation with bike lanes and pathways, switching to electric buses, enabling more consumers to invest in electric vehicles and retrofitting buildings. 

Administration is expected to return in March with an updated strategy, including aggressive targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.



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