Will electric cars in Edmonton get a boost?

Edmonton has applied for a $1.2-million federal grant to install 204 public charging stations. Staff expects to hear this month whether the application was successful.

City eyeing pilot project for public charging stations

The City of Edmonton has applied for federal funding to install 204 public charging stations for electric cars. (Hannah Yoon/Canadian Press)

Edmonton wants to steer people toward electric cars but councillors are hearing the city may have to build the infrastructure before more people sign on. 

"I would argue it's not a chicken and the egg question," said Coun. Michael Walters, who earlier this year asked for information on how to get more people driving the environmentally-friendly vehicles. 

"The plug-ins and the charging stations have to come first to really get any momentum."

Edmonton has applied for a $1.2-million federal grant to install 204 public charging stations. Staff expects to hear this month whether the application was successful.

Staff told councillors on the urban planning committee that more charging stations throughout the city could help reduce "range anxiety."

The average electric car can go about 110 to 150 kilometres on a charged battery. When it's really cold out, that distance decreases by about 30 per cent.

Installation could start next year 

There are three types of charging stations: Level I, which takes about eight hours to boost a battery; Level II, which takes half as long; and Level III, which can provide a full charge in half an hour. 

The 200 of the 204 public charging stations the city is eyeing would be Level II, which each costs about $10,000. Private businesses would own, operate and maintain 170 of them. The remaining 30 would belong to the city and sit on its busiest properties. 

Four charging stations would be at a Level III. Those stations, each costing $100,000, would be located on major routes in and out of Edmonton. 

Installation would start in 2017 and be finished by 2018. 

The city plans to match the federal funding, bringing the total price of the project to $2.4 million. 

Councillors on the urban planning committee passed a motion to come up with a way to monitor the growth of electric cars in Edmonton. 

Currently, 160 people in Edmonton own electric cars. 

With more stringent measures to cap carbon coming in Alberta and Canada, staff project there could be 4,000 of the vehicles on Edmonton roads by 2020. 

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell