Trudeau government approves hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations, audit shows operational stations barely used

The Trudeau government approved hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations. An audit shows the first operational ones are mostly sitting empty.

Jason Unrau Montreal QC

The Trudeau government will foot half the bill for 420 electric vehicle charging stations from coast-to-coast at a cost of $21 million, according to Natural Resources Canada.

The stations are paid for through a $182 million Natural Resources Canada program covering 50 percent of the cost of hydrogen fuel cell stations, natural gas vehicle refuelling portals and EV charging stations.

To date the department has subsidized 102 of the latter EV chargers–up to $50,000 each–that a recent audit determined are barely used.

Of the half-dozen stations Natural Resources Canada was able to glean 365 days of usage data–two in Peel Region (Ontario) and four in Quebec–the EV chargers were engaged an average of 2.6 times-per-day.

In busier locales like Peel Region, just outside Toronto, EV chargers sit idle for nearly 22 hours/day; averaging barely four daily visits at 38 minutes per charge.

Conversely, a pair of EV chargers built in Notre-Dame-des-Prairies, Quebec, were used barely once-a-day, or 1.2 times. At just 22 minutes per charge, those EV stations sat unused more than 23 hours a day.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, formerly minister of the environment, did not respond to questions about the disuse of EV charging stations, nor did her successor in the environment portfolio, Jonathan Wilkinson.

Ian Lee, professor and faculty chair at Carleton’s Sprott School of Business, said the conversation few are having about long term objectives is “where is all this electricity going to come from.”

“So far the sales of electric cars have been miniscule. It’s about 50,000 cars out of a population of 32 million cars and trucks on the roads of Canada,” said Lee.

“Now let’s pretend everybody went out and bought an electric car or truck–we’re talking gargantuan and unprecedented increases in electricity required, necessitating enormous new grids because demand would go through the roof.”

Most proponents of the 420 EV charging stations–approved under phase one and phase two of Natural Resources Canada’s Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment–are municipalities, provincial public utilities and post secondary institutions.

But others include private enterprises like Canadian Tire, approved for more than 50 between Nova Scotia and British Columbia, Suncor Energy (76 EV station approvals) and a numbered company–2587265 Ontario Inc.–approved for 100 stations in Ontario.

According to Natural Resources Canada, between 2013 and 2018 purchases of electric vehicles increased more than 1,250 percent, but in 2018 that amounted to just 44,000 new EVs on the road, or only three percent of the total new vehicle market.

Transportation accounts for approximately 25 percent of Canada’s annual greenhouse gas emissions which in 2016 were 704 megatons. In order to meet Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments, the country must cut emissions to 512 mT/year, or 30 percent below 2005 levels.

Despite the Trudeau government implementing a carbon tax across the country in 2018 to reduce emissions, Blacklock’s Reporter reported on how a preliminary Environment Canada report showed the overall GHG emissions went up millions of tonnes. The report has since been pulled and the department and government are not answering questions regarding 2018 GHG emissions numbers.


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