Birch Hills County is latest to plug into charging station

Pictured beside their new Level 3 Electric Vehicle Charging Station are Birch Hills County employees. Left-right are executive assistant/legislative co-ordinator Bailey Smith, taxation and assessment clerk Rachelle Piscopo, CAO Larry Davidson, and director of public works Michael Coy.

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Birch Hills County installed three electric vehicle charging stations earlier this month, inclusive of a Level 3 station that is available to the public at all times.
The Hypercharge stations were open to the public on Jan. 20. The Level 3 Charger has connectors for both Tesla and J-1772.
“We were able to access the Electric Vehicle Charging Program under the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre (MCCAC),” says CAO Larry Davidson.
“The grant provided 100 per cent of funding. We actually installed two Level 2 chargers within the Birch Hills County compound for our own future use, as well as a Level 3 charger for public use.”
The Level 3 Charger is the first for Alberta north of Edmonton, a step that is expected to increase electric vehicle traffic that will be visiting the northern part of the province.
“We saw it as an opportunity to attract traffic to our businesses and communities that would otherwise not typically be visited,” says Davidson.
“Council wanted to ensure that EV vehicles could charge within a 30-minute charge cycle as opposed to the typical Level 2 charger which needs several hours.”
Davidson says council is aware it will take time for people to adapt to electric vehicles, but their goal was to attract more visitors to the county.
Birch Hills’ Level 3 charger is located on the southwest corner of the Birch Hills County office parking lot at 4601-50 Street in Wanham.
“Council feels this is an opportunity to utilize grant funding to provide a new service that would otherwise be unavailable for many years,” says Davidson.
“We also see this as an opportunity to take advantage of future grant funding for electric vehicles for our own fleet.”
The Level 3 charger rate is $0.33 per minute, trying to stay similar in cost to Petro Canada and Canadian Tire locations that offer the service in the province. Davidson says a typical charge on an EV at a Level 3 charger will be about $10. The County has recently also added the charger to Plugshare so that public will know that it is accessible.
“It will take time, but based on our energy rates and the rates we charge for charging, we should make a small profit after considering power consumption and maintenance,” Davidson says.
“Council is proud to be a leader in implementing new technologies that will benefit our communities.”
A Level 2 charger will be installed at the Falher Town office, a Level 2 and a Level 3 at the M.D. of Smoky River office, and a Level 3 charger in the Town of Slave Lake.
Local municipalities are taking advantage of grants being offered to help improve infrastructure. Two Level 2 chargers were also installed last year at the Northern Sunrise County office near Peace River.
If other municipalities are interested in applying for grant money to apply for EV charging infrastructure, at the time of publication there was still money available through SouthGrow for approximately 46 per cent of the installation and equipment cost.

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