PEI

P.E.I. aiming for high-speed electric car charging network by 2019

The P.E.I. government says it's confident it will have a network of six high-speed electric car chargers set up across the Island by early 2019, with money from Ottawa to help pay for it.

Government still counting on federal funding help, after Ottawa rejected two previous funding applications

There are more than 20 Level-2 chargers set up around P.E.I., which can charge an electric vehicle in three to four hours. However, the Island has no high speed chargers, which can do the job in just 15 minutes. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The P.E.I. government says it's confident it will have a network of six high-speed electric car charging stations set up across the Island by early 2019, with money from Ottawa to help pay for it. 

That's despite the fact that over the past two years, the province has missed out on one big opportunity to apply for high-speed charger funding from Ottawa, and has had two other applications for federal funding rejected. 

"We get a bit frustrated by times, but we don't lose confidence with this," said Mike Proud, manager of P.E.I.'s energy efficiency office. "We think at the end of the day, we'll be there and get the funding we need to install the [high-speed] system on P.E.I."

N.B. granted funding

In the P.E.I. Legislature last month, Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker questioned why in New Brunswick, NB Power has already been granted $335,000 in federal funding to help pay for 10 fast-charging stations along the Trans-Canada Highway in that province. 

High-speed chargers can charge a vehicle in 15 minutes. There are none on P.E.I. 

Mike Proud, the manager of P.E.I.'s office of energy efficiency, says he was surprised when the federal government rejected two of the province's applications for fast charger and research funding. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

"Maybe somebody from your department should have a phone call with the people in New Brunswick," Bevan-Baker said to Energy Minister Paula Biggar. 

Proud said when Ottawa put out the call for governments and businesses to apply for that federal funding two years ago, the P.E.I. government was still developing its 10-year energy strategy, and wasn't sure installing high-speed chargers was the way to go. 

 'At the end of the day, we'll be there and get the funding we need to install the [high speed] system on P.E.I.'- Mike Proud, manager, P.E.I. Office of Energy Efficiency 

"At that point in time, [electric vehicles] were becoming more mainstream, they were getting more popular. But there still wasn't a definitive answer on whether they were the solution or not," Proud said. 

Bevan-Baker said he's not buying that argument. 

"Everything pointed to this being the future of cars, and it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that's where we were going, and we should've been applying for those funds two years ago, absolutely," he said. 

Now a priority 

In its energy strategy released last winter, the P.E.I. government did place a priority on developing electric car infrastructure, and accessing federal funding to help pay for it. 

In response, Proud said his office submitted two federal funding applications through a Natural Resources Canada program, both asking for half a million dollars to help fund four high-speed charging stations, along with a study on the impact electric cars could have on the Island's electricity grid. 

He said his department was surprised when Ottawa rejected both applications because they didn't fit in with the "primary objective" of the funding program. 

In the P.E.I. Legislature last month, Green Party Leader Peter Bevan-Baker questioned why New Brunswick had accessed federal funding for fast chargers, while P.E.I. hadn't. (Province of P.E.I.)

The department has since applied for another $500,000 in charging station funding through another federal program, which is still under review. 

However, Proud said the province's best bet to receive federal funding for chargers will come through the second phase of the same funding program NB Power accessed. 

"[That program] has the goal of completing the coast-to-coast network of electric vehicle fast chargers on the national highway system, so we are very confident that we will be able to leverage this funding," Proud said. 

The energy department is still working on that funding application, which is due in March, he said.

It will ask for money from Ottawa to cover half of the cost of six high-speed chargers, spread across the province. 

About the Author

Steve Bruce

Video journalist

Steve Bruce is a video journalist with CBC P.E.I. He landed on the Island in 2009, after stints with CBC in Fredericton, St. John's, Toronto and Vancouver. He grew up in Corner Brook, N.L.

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