Hamlet opens Yukon's first public electric vehicle charging station

The Mount Lorne community recycling centre and transfer station has installed a charging station powered by solar panels.

Mount Lorne community recycling centre has installed a charging station powered by solar panels

Mike Bailie says opening the charging station is like the 'egg before the chicken.' He says supplying the infrastructure could open the door to a whole new transportation system in Yukon. (Claudiane Samson/SRC)

Residents of the Yukon hamlet of Mount Lorne can not only drop off their recycling and reusable items at the local transfer station, now they can also recharge their electric vehicle.

The Mount Lorne station is the proud new owner of the territory's first public electric vehicle charging station, and it's completely solar powered.

Organizers hope to make the recycling centre a model for an environmentally-friendly future of the territory.

"It's kind of like the egg before the chicken kind of thing," said Mike Bailie, general manager of the transfer station.

"If nobody starts the infrastructure it just delays it that much longer, but now we have half of the infrastructure we need. If every community had one of these somewhere it's just paving the way for a whole new change for our transportation system here in the Yukon."

The parts for the station cost $1,700. (Alexandra Byers/CBC)

Even on the coldest, cloudiest days of winter, 160 solar panels on site are generating power.

Since going online in January 2017, they have produced a total of 54 megawatt hours — enough to power four and a half homes for a full year.

The panels produce almost six times more power than they use.

"That power is presently feeding back to the grid for everyone in the Yukon to benefit from," said Al Foster, the president of the Lorne Mountain Community Association.

According to Foster, the panels produce power even with an inch of snow on them, and actually perform better in the cold, because the resistance in the wires and circuits goes down.

"In January when we had that –40 C weather out here and we had those really sunny days, these panels were producing a perfect bell curve of power during the daylight hours," Foster said.

"A lot of people just don't think we can produce power, but our monitoring shows we are producing power every month of the year."

The excess energy led to the idea of installing the charging station.

Al Foster says solar panels at the transfer station have been producing more power than the station needs. (Claudiane Samson/SRC)

The community rallied behind them. Local resident Damen Anderson offered to do the research and source the system, and he donated the time and expertise to install the charger.

The parts cost around $1,700, and were paid for by the Mount Lorne Garbage Management Society.

Owners can fully recharge their electric vehicle in about an hour.

"This one is a way for people in the community to charge here, and we could work toward putting a charger in town so that there is an ability to buy electric vehicles for use in the Yukon and in this community," said Bailie.

The station takes about an hour to charge a vehicle. (Alexandra Byers/CBC)

Bailie said the Yukon government has been supportive so far, and he thinks Yukoners can expect a public charging station in Whitehorse within a year or two.

"The Yukon Government was instrumental in funding the solar panels that allowed all this to happen," he said. "There's a lot of support, but it's a bureaucracy and it takes time."

Bailie said people have told him they're now thinking about buying an electric vehicle. There are currently 12 registered in the territory, according to the Motor Vehicles Office.

"Hearing that there's a charging station, and also the vehicles that are coming out now are way more effective. They're charging more, they're going longer distances. It's just ... it's just happening!"


Alexandra Byers is an award-winning journalist with CBC North in Whitehorse. Before she moved to Yukon, she freelanced as a journalist and videographer in Uganda. Prior to that she produced investigative and breaking news with the CBC News Investigative Unit and CBC News Network in Toronto.