Chargers to give electric car owners ‘confidence’
The cost of the city’s plan to build a network of electric vehicle charging stations could be partly covered by grants and funding from sources other than taxpayers.
But the 29 charging stations, to be built across the city next year, will serve a relatively small number of drivers.
Last week, city council voted to spend $796,000 to install 29 charging stations at municipally owned facilities around the city and committed another $82,000 to provide free access to 27 of the stations for two years.
While electric vehicles are becoming more common, they still represent a tiny fraction of the total number of vehicles on the road.
According to Statistics Canada, there are about 8.2 million passenger vehicles registered in Ontario. Of those, only about 10,000 are electric vehicles.
It is not known what the number of electric vehicles in Kingston is, only that it probably mirrors the provincial statistics.
“It is definitely relatively low. We’re talking, maybe conservatively, in the 100-to-200-vehicle range. We don’t know exactly, it could be a little more, but we know that it is a small fraction of current vehicles on the road today in Kingston,” said Pete Huigenbos, director of real estate and environmental initiatives. The city’s charging station plan is less about the electric vehicles that are on the road today and more about increasing their numbers in the future. In supporting the plan, many city councillors pointed to recent announcements from major carmakers and countries of their plans to phase out the manufacturing and use of fossil fuel vehicles by the middle of the century at the latest.
Transportation is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing those is a key objective of climate change responses at all levels of government.
“What we’re talking about is what the city can do to continue to support the community’s investment in electric vehicles,” Huigenbos said. “There continues to be more and more investment out there for electric vehicles, and the city’s strategy is to help potential purchasers to have confidence in knowing that there is a network of charging stations in this community that will support that purchase.”
In Ontario, electric vehicle buyers can receive thousands of dollars in incentives, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
The city’s 2015 community greenhouse gas emissions inventory showed that about one-third of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from fuel, and fossil fuel accounts for more than 40 per cent of the community’s energy consumption.
For every 0.1 per cent decrease in petroleum-fuelled vehicle use, Kingston could see a decrease of up to 400 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
The Ontario government has committed to have electric vehicles account for five per cent of all new vehicles purchased by 2020. If that goal is reached, Kingston could see a 1.5 per cent decrease in the community’s greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of 20,000 tonnes.
The network is to include two 450-volt Level 3 stations, 25 220volt Level 2 stations and two 120volt Level 1 charging stations to be installed at parking lots, arenas and other city-owned sites.
The plan is expected to involve about 0.1 per cent of the parking spaces in the downtown. Which spots will be included is to be determined by how practical it is to service them with electricity.
Operating and maintaining Level 1 and 2 chargers — access to which is to be provided free of charge for two years — is estimated to cost about $60,000, and city staff expect that after the first two years a fee would be introduced to help cover some of those expenses.
The Level 3 stations would have fees of between $10 and $15 per hour in effect as soon as they opened, and Huigenbos said those fees could help subsidize the network’s cost.
Electric car chargers, similar to the one seen here at Budweiser Gardens in London, will be popping up in Kingston next year.