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Taxpayer-funded electric vehicle chargers barely used: Report

Based on an average charge time of 38 minutes per electric vehicle at Peel’s EV charging stations, the infrastructure sat idle more than 21 hours each day.
Jason Unrau Montreal, QC

A $182.5 million federal government program has so far subsidized 102 electric vehicle charging stations across Canada, but some locations are used barely once-a-day according to an audit by Natural Resources Canada.

“Overall, the demand for electric vehicles has increased significantly in Canada,” reports NRCan despite a 1,254 percent increase in electric vehicle sales between 2013 and 2018. The 44,000 vehicles purchased in Canada in 2018 represented just three precent of the total new car market for that year.

Ottawa’s Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure initiative provides half of the cost of electric vehicle charging stations up to a value of $50,000 and the same deal for natural gas or hydrogen fuel cell stations up to a value of $1 million.

Courtesy of NRCan.

Proponents include municipalities and businesses and in addition to electric stations, seven natural gas fuelling stations and three hydrogen fuel cell stations have been built to date, and their construction exceeded NRCan’s expectations.

“EV stations are present in densely populated areas, selected remote locations, and along the cross-Canada main corridor,” according to the department, which reviewed each site before approving the funding.

Unfortunately, fewer than six percent of the units were in service long enough to provide any measure of success.

“As of March 31, 2019, only six of the 102 EV stations reported usage data to NRCan; the data were not provided for the remaining stations because they have not yet been in operation for a full year,” according to the NRCan audit.

Courtesy of NRCan.

Of the half-dozen stations NRCan was able to glean 365 days of usage data—two in Peel Region (Ontario) and four in Quebec—the electric vehicle chargers were utilized an average of 2.6 times-per-day.

The pair of EV chargers in Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, Que, barely registered one charge-per-day (1.2) compared to nearly four-times (3.7) for Peel’s stations.  Based on an average charge time of 38 minutes for Peel’s EV charging locales, the infrastructure sat idle more than 21 hours each day.

The federal program is intended to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, for which transportation accounts for approximately 25 percent of Canada’s annual GHG output, which in 2016 was 704 megatons.

In order for Canada to meet its Paris Agreement commitments, total annual GHG emissions must be brought to 512 mT/year, or 30 percent below 2005 levels.

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Jason Unrau
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