By Collin Gallant on January 12, 2018.
Medicine Hat is throwing its weight behind installing a local high-speed charging station for electric vehicles, as well as creating a network of stations throughout southern Alberta.
Thursday’s utility committee meeting saw council members support spending up to $15,000 to become part of a regional effort to position high-efficiency charging stations across southern Alberta.
The city and Medicine Hat College also signed a joint statement of support to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities program, which calls for climate innovation proposals.
“For a small amount of money we’re getting in on something that’s cutting edge,” said committee chair Coun. Phil Turnbull.
Last year, the cities of Calgary and Lethbridge, along with three regional economic development agencies, engaged the Community Energy Association to help develop a network of charging stations.
Plans would see 20 stations situated at various locations in southern Alberta, but only as far east as Taber and none on the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Saskatchewan.
Construction could begin this year if further grant funding is secured. Total cost for all stations could be $2.1 million, proposed to pay half by the FCM and half by the province.
Rochelle Pancoast, the new general manager of the city’s utilities business support office, said the city’s involvement with the college is important.
“There’s been significant effort work to build up the plan,” said Pancoast. “It establishes charging stations at intervals that electric vehicle owners can travel between urban areas with confidence.”
In November, Medicine Hat College received a $215,000 provincial grant to build a solar panel canopy at the Cultural Centre parking lot. It would both charge vehicles and the college system, as well as act as a teaching lab for trades and technology students.
The location, next to the Trans-Canada Highway, has a view of the Saamis Tepee, is near the tourism centre, and would have signs pointing travellers to services.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Coun. Jamie McIntosh. “The southeast corner is without something like this and its vital for our community.”
Coun. Jim Turner, also council’s representative on area economic development boards, said the possibility of a charging network has been discussed for sometime.
The city hopes to see increased tourism (drawing) and also begin analyzing what a proliferation of electric vehicles might do to energy consumption in years to come.
“In the future if there are 10,000 electric cars in the city all plugging in at night, what does that do to our load?” he said.
Several private businesses in town offer low-speed charging stations as a way to attract business, but “filling up” at the low-efficiency stations can take hours. The new station could cover both fast and slow service.
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