ELMSDALE — If you build it, they will take off.
That’s the goal, at least, of a Nova Scotia Power initiative intended to make getting around more convenient for drivers of electric vehicles. The utility has unveiled a network of fast-charging stations positioned at a dozen high-traffic locations across the province.
The announcement was made Monday at a charging station in Elmsdale, where the equipment has been installed on the edge of a shopping plaza parking lot, not far off Highway 102.
“This network is so significant because it represents exactly what we’re focused on as a company: customer value, community partnership and powerful innovation,” said Karen Hutt, president and CEO of Nova Scotia Power.
“The energy industry and, frankly, the entire world is changing so quickly and it’s our job to keep up with that, and we need to make sure that we’re ready for the future. We also need to make sure that we’re making investments that will sustain our province for generations to come,” she said.
“We know that Nova Scotians are interested in electric vehicles and what’s holding them back at this moment from buying one is the lack of infrastructure. So today is about removing that barrier and pushing forward towards a sustainable future for all Nova Scotians.”
Emera Inc., Nova Scotia Power’s parent company, is funding the charging network along with contributions from the federal and provincial governments. NSP invested about $450,000, Hutt said. The 12 Level 3 fast chargers were constructed with funding totalling $600,000 from Natural Resources Canada’s Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Deployment Initiative.
The Nova Scotia government has installed 12 Level 2 chargers at the same locations, at a cost of about $120,000. These chargers can be used by operators of plug-in hybrid vehicles that are unable to charge using the Level 3 chargers.
“Really, the big difference is Level 3 versus the Level 2. There are Level 2 chargers throughout the province today, and those work perfectly fine but they take longer to charge,” said Hutt.
“The Level 3s are very quick. … We know that that’s a huge convenience factor.”
NSP claims Level 3 fast chargers can power an electric vehicle in 15 to 30 minutes, at a cost of $3.75 per 15-minute session.
The 12 fast chargers are spaced to enable electric vehicle drivers to travel across the province. The sites were selected based on criteria that included proximity to a 100-series highway, and the stations are roughly 65 kilometres apart.
In addition to the Sobeys in Elmsdale, the locations are:
•Coldbrook, Sobeys Fast Fuel
•Shelburne, Sobeys Fast Fuel
•Bridgewater, Best Western
•Debert, Masstown Market
•Stellarton, Sobeys Fast Fuel
•Baddeck, Lynwood Inn
•North Sydney, Sobeys
Stephen Thomas, energy campaign co-ordinator with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, said the network is a big deal.
“I think it’s fair to say that we don’t always agree with the way things are going in Nova Scotia, but this is a great move and a great day,” Thomas said at the launch event.
“Even in Nova Scotia’s grid, at about 55 per cent coal now, it’s better in terms of climate emissions to use an electric vehicle than to use a traditional gasoline or diesel vehicle. They’re that efficient.”
The charging stations are manufactured by AddEnergie, a Quebec company, and are connected to AddEnergie’s FLO Network, said to be Canada’s largest electric vehicle charging system. The FLO Network provides access to thousands of public charging stations across the country, including those of partners eCharge Network in New Brunswick and the Electric Circuit in Quebec. Using the FLO mobile app, drivers can locate stations and pay for charging sessions.
Sanjeev Pushkarna, the charging network’s project lead at Nova Scotia Power, said innovations like electric vehicles and battery storage represent an exciting future for the energy industry.
The network will also give Nova Scotia Power data to study the effects of electric vehicle fast chargers on the electric system.