City of Ottawa revved up for electric car station

A red car was plugged in at City Hall Friday, less than 24 hours after an electric vehicle charging station was unveiled.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said environment committee chairwoman and River Ward Coun. Maria McRae, who posted a photo on Twitter.

“I thought, ‘this is cool.’”

Owners can recharge their EV batteries for free.

Hydro Ottawa and the city are splitting the $25,000 installation tab as part of a six month pilot project to “understand demand and real cost for these services,” said McRae.

Hydro Ottawa estimates the cost would be less than $600 per year, even if the charging station is used 24/7.

The central location is ideal given residents access municipal and provincial services, and the courthouse is next door.

The maximum charge time is two consecutive hours.

“We’ll be measuring the whole entire time,” said McRae.

If there is demand, “it could even be a halfway point for people to commute,” she said.

And the city will then determine how much the charge will cost users.

Roughly 200 electric vehicles are in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, said the president of the Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa.

The electric vehicle scene isn’t Ottawa’s forte, but “the potential is there for us to catch up quickly,” said Darryl McMahon.

“Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal are all probably the leaders.”

Ricardo Borba, the first Canadian to drive away in the Nissan Leaf SL when it launched last fall, likes the Lisgar St. location.

“I look back one year ago – there was absolutely nothing in Ottawa,” said Borba.

Since then, a handful have popped up.

Last month, a free Level 2 charger was installed at the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

In August, Place d’Orléans unveiled the first public charging station for shoppers, a joint project with Myers Orleans Chevrolet Buick GMC.

As of late October, the Ministry of Transportation has issued 708 green plates for electric vehicles in Ontario.

Ontario residents are eligible for an incentive ranging from $5,000 to $8,500 when they buy or lease a new plug-in hybrid electric or battery electric vehicle.

Since the program began in 2010, “we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of electric vehicles being registered as more and more electric vehicle models come on the market,” ministry spokesman Bob Nichols wrote in an e-mail.

“The number of electric vehicles available is expected to continue to increase over the coming years.”

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

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