Installing electric vehicle charging stations around Cold Lake will be subsidized by city grants available to businesses and multi-family property owners.
At its July 13 meeting, council voted to set aside $10,000 for the new incentive program that will be offered over the next two years.
The money will be used to create one-time grants of $2,500 to assist with the purchase of equipment, but will not cover the cost of installation, according to the city’s newly created Electric Vehicle Charging Station Incentive Program Policy approved at the June 22 council meeting.
Councillors Bob Buckle, Duane Lay and Kirk Soroka opposed the motion, questioning the interest in EVs in the area and their effectiveness in Alberta’s harsh winters.
A study on EVs in colder climates found the battery range in winter can drop up to 50 per cent, which doesn’t affect the efficiency of the engine because of the driver using the climate controls to keep the vehicle’s interior warm. This problem can minimized by heating (or cooling) the car or truck while it’s still plugged in so the battery doesn’t drain while doing so on the road.
Currently, the majority of the vehicles on the road are gas-powered with internal combustion engines, but the federal government is hoping to change this and recently announced a goal of having all vehicle sales be zero emission by year 2035. This means in 14 years, dealerships will no longer be allowed to sell gas-powered vehicles.
Cold Lake Ford is already an approved EV dealer, and that designation came with upgrades to its building, specialized training and tools for the new vehicles. The dealership has one Mach-E Mustang on the lot, and although many locals have shown interest in test driving the car, no serious offers have been made.
Jay Mcfarlane, sales representative for Lake City Motors, said the adoption of electric vehicles might take a while.
“It’s just a little bit premature,” he said. “I know people are talking about it. In the metro areas, you’re going to see a little more action to start with, and it’ll trickle out into the rural areas.”
Lake City Motors does not currently sell any electric vehicles, but they are awaiting the release of the new Chevrolet Bolt.
T.J. Solie, Cold Lake Ford’s sales manager, said he’ll have to see the electric vehicle market take off to believe in its potential.
Both Solie and Mcfarlane report low interest in electric cars. But manufacturers are getting started on electric trucks, which both salesmen believe will have a greater impact on the Cold Lake market.
Currently, the federal government has Incentives for Zero-Emission Vehicles Program, which grants consumers up to $5,000 towards the purchase of a new ZEV.
Albertans received about $6 million to buy around 1,200 ZEVs under this initiative since the program began in May 2019, according to Transport Canada.
This is well below the number of ZEVs bought under the program in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario.
Quebecers purchased 54,000 ZEVs under the program since its inception.
In addition to iZEV funding, buyers of new EVs in these regions are also eligible for provincial rebates, ranging from $1,000 in Ontario to $8,000 in Quebec.
Although Alberta does not offer rebates, communities like Edmonton, Calgary, and now Cold Lake are taking matters into their own hands.
Currently, 4 Wing Base Hospital, Cold Lake Ford, and Cold Lake Chrysler have EV charging stations available for public use.
Both Mcfarlane and Solie have expressed interest in the new grant and potential adoption or upgrading of EV charging equipment.