Construction to begin this spring on new network of electric car charging stations

By Lara Fominoff @LaraFominoff on Twitter
February 4, 2019 - 4:27pm Updated: February 4, 2019 - 5:08pm

LETHBRIDGE - 20 new Level 2 and fast charging electric car stations will be built across southern Alberta in a project called "Peaks to Prairies."

It's a nearly three-year collaboration between the Provincial Government, the cities of Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Calgary, in partnership with ATCO. The announcement was made at Lethbridge College’s new automotive centre in the recently completed Trades Building -  where five electric cars, and their owners displayed their vehicles and answered questions from the public. 

The province, according to Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, contributed $1.2 million dollars to the initiative. 

"It's true, there's a bit of a dead zone. There's the Tesla charging stations at Fort Macleod and then things can get pretty dicey. Particularly if people are going all the way across the country." 

Jim Willett, Executive Chair of the SouthGrow Regional Economic Initiative, says right now, there’s a sort of “chicken and egg” dilemma.

“If you don’t have a place to charge a vehicle, you’re less likely to buy one. And if you buy one and don’t have a place to charge it, well then, you’re upset with everybody because ‘well I bought the thing and I can’t use it.’ So, somebody has to do it.”

The more than 1700 km network will connect numerous cities and towns, from Canmore to Calgary, Crowsnest Pass, Warner, Taber, Lethbridge, Waterton Lakes and east to Medicine Hat.

Cost of the project is around $2.2 million dollars, according to Willett.

“The idea is… to make everything happen for every community in the region. This will enable somebody to buy an electric vehicle and not have that far of running out of a place to charge.”

Tourism also factors into the decision to construct the network of stations, with the province eyeing more visits from those who own electric vehicles to come to southern Alberta from Montana and B.C.

Currently, B.C. has at least 30 fast charging stations, not including Tesla Super Charging stations.

The first station will be built in Lethbridge this spring, while the rest should be completed by the end of the year. ATCO has agreed to build and maintain each station for the next 10 years. 

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