Nfld. & Labrador

N.L. electric vehicle charging network gets $2.2M funding boost

The provincial and federal governments, along with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, announced just over $2.2 million to create a network of chargers for electric vehicles on Friday.

Construction expected this fall for 14 stations on the island

The provincial and federal governments announced money Friday for a network of electric vehicle charging stations for Newfoundland and Labrador. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador is much closer to a network of electric vehicle chargers on the island, after Friday's announcement of just over $2 million for the project. 

The provincial government is kicking in $1 million, while the federal government is contributing $770,000. Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is providing about $500,000.

"Today, we complete an important milestone in green transportation, a network of fast chargers for electric vehicles right here on the island," federal Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan said during the announcement.

"This connects us with EV networks in the other nine provinces and it makes electric vehicle transportation a truly viable option from coast to coast."

The 14 new fast chargers will be placed along the Trans-Canada Highway and in Gros Morne National Park. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

In total, 28 electric vehicle chargers will be installed across the island to support the transition to a clean energy future, at 14 stations. The stations "contain both a fast charger and a Level 2 charger," according to the provincial government.

Fast chargers, often known as Level 3 chargers, can take 30 minutes to an hour to power up an electric vehicle. 

"This funding will help Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro to build a fast-charging electric vehicle network along the Trans-Canada Highway, connecting St. John's to Port aux Basques, including one location in Gros Morne National Park," reads a media release issued shortly after the announcement Friday afternoon in St. John's. 

More electric cars going farther

Jon Seary, the co-founder of the group Drive Electric NL, says he's happy the province is "finally" getting a network of fast chargers that will allow drivers to stop, charge their vehicles quickly and continue on their way.

"These are prevalent right across North America, around the world. Newfoundland is lagging behind, so this is fantastic that we'll finally have this piece of infrastructure," he said.

Seary said the chargers are well spaced and will allow older electric models or vehicles with smaller batteries to go farther.

"With a network of chargers across the province, that allows people with these inexpensive cars to actually cross the province," he said.

"If you're driving something newer, something made in the last number of years or some of the Teslas, you might just need to make one charging stop and you would have a charger at various points along the way to do that."

Drive Electric NL co-founder Jon Seary says it's fantastic that Newfoundland and Labrador is getting a network of Level 3 chargers for electric vehicles. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

According to Seary, Newfoundland and Labrador is far behind the rest of Atlantic Canada, with fewer than 200 electric vehicles on the roads, but he said the new network of fast chargers will give the vehicles the green light and likely increase demand in the province.

"There is very little reason why you can't own and operate an electric car now," he said.

"We have a certain number of them available in the province for sale and we're looking for the dealers now to start bringing in the models that they can sell."

Seary said more electric vehicles will also make good use of the surplus electricity from Muskrat Falls.

"That keeps the dollars here in Newfoundland and Labrador and you cannot argue against that, that is a fantastic thing, that we can use a product that we currently don't have a market for," he said.

"This is a wonderful thing to see, it's a great first phase, a first step, to go across the island with chargers … and in the future, we look forward to seeing more of these projects proposed."

Construction of the first site will begin in September. 

In 2019, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro posted a tender inviting bids for land leases for the stations near or on the Trans-Canada Highway, in specific locations from Port aux Basques to St. John's.

Hydro has said engineering work at the sites will be completed this summer, with installation completed by the end of the year.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Mark Quinn and Lindsay Bird