Electric Vehicle Owners In North Frustrated

The following article was written by Michael Chen and originally posted in the Sudbury Star: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2017/06/15/electric-vehicle-owners-in-north-frustrated

Four more electric vehicle charging stations, like the one here at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, will be installed across Leeds and Grenville.

Four more electric vehicle charging stations, like the one here at St. Lawrence College in Brockville, will be installed across Leeds and Grenville.

It's up to businesses to apply for government funding to install electric vehicle charging stations, says Zachary Lefevre, president of Meo Electric of Montreal.

His company, which sells and helps to install charging stations, will be assisting with the second round of provincial funding for fast chargers.

The funding comes as part of a three-year plan to increase station coverage in the province, with $20 million assigned annually.

Two recent letters to The Nugget have criticized the province for failing to install chargers where and when promised, as well as the disproportionate number of stations in southern Ontario compared to the North.

In a June 9 letter, Laurent Boileau of Surgeon Falls said "southern Ontario has many of its chargers while there isn't one in operation in the North.

"If this isn't bad enough, I recently found out that even though we were promised a large number of charging stations in such places as Kapuskasing, Hearst, Sault St. Marie, Wawa, Nipigon, Ignace, Dryden and many more, now things have changed.

"The EVCO website now indicates that all the above sites and countless others have been deleted. Why?

"Closer to my home, we were initially promised two fast chargers in each of North Bay and Sudbury. This has been reduced to one each. I have checked today in North Bay at the indicated location and I saw no sign of anything that remotely resembles a charging station."

In a letter in today's paper Gordon Stewart of North Bay adds the "distances being mapped out for level 3 charging stations favour higher-end cars such as the Tesla and BMW with greater range. Was the intent when setting up this network that only wealthier individuals would benefit?"

The Ministry of Transportation acknowledges the criticism and said in an email statement it's "seeking to address additional charging needs based on the feedback we have heard, including in the Northern regions."

Lefevre sympathizes with electric vehicle owners. However, he says that, based on his meetings with the province, it may not be entirely responsible for where the stations go.

According to Lefebvre, the initial round of funding was set up such that businesses had to apply in order to get a station.

"They actually told me basically anybody who applied in Northern Ontario got accepted. There was maybe less knowledge about this program among business owners in Northern Ontario so very few people were making applications," says Lefevre.

He adds that this approach might not have worked as well as the government had hoped.

As for the stations that were promised on which the province failed to deliver, Lefevre explains that while he doesn't know the exact situation in North Bay, it was businesses that sometimes pulled out of the program.

"I imagine that that's the kind of thing that happened. Someone applied for a station, got approved, then when it came to actually putting it in, they realized 'Oh well we hadn't actually gotten a quote how much it would cost to put this in and it turns out that we need to upgrade our transformer,'" says Lefevre.

The EVCO website indicates a charger will be installed at Tim Hortons on Drury Street in North Bay.

A second charger was to be installed at a McDonalds restaurant in the city, but the company withdrew from the program.

"After careful consideration, we are now exploring other options for bringing electric vehicle charging stations to some restaurants," McDonalds Canada confirmed in an email.

Lefevre, however, does blame the province for delays, explaining that electricians were sent out to assess installation costs only after applications were accepted.

"Basically, what we're doing for the next round of funding is making sure we talk to North Bay Hydro, making sure we talk to an electrician, making sure we talk to the owner of the restaurant where we're going to put the charging station and then putting together a lot more well-thought-out kind of comprehensive application," he explains.

Lefebvre is confident the North will benefit from the changes.

"Right now they're disproportionately low so I am betting if there are enough applications they would put 25 or 30 per cent of the funds into this area with six per cent of the population because it is so geographically large," he says.

Lefevre's company is currently accepting emails from business owners interested in getting in on the second round of funding. His company will assist in the application and installation process.