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Wellington County looks into expanding electric vehicle charging network

The plan is to apply for funding for a joint study with the City of Guelph and neighbouring counties
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WELLINGTON COUNTY – The County of Wellington is looking to explore the creation of a regional electric vehicle (EV) charging network with neighbouring municipalities.

Karen Chisholme, the county’s climate change coordinator, explained at a Thursday planning committee meeting they are looking to do a study to identify gaps in service offerings and propose options to expand the network. 

This is planned to be a joint partnership with the City of Guelph and the counties of Perth, Huron, Dufferin, Bruce and Grey.

Chisholme said the total cost would be $70,000 and each municipality is expected to put in $5,000–covering half. 

To cover the other portion, they will be applying for a Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund grant. 

“We collectively thought this is a great approach to some challenges we’ve had in gaining funding for EV charging stations in small communities,” Chisholme said, adding this approach has been successfully used out west. 

Chisholme said initial ideas are to place EV charging stations close to visitor destinations such as tourist attractions or shopping.

“So while people are charging their vehicles, they can partake in local destinations and shopping and hopefully link to some support for the local economy and buying local,” Chisholme said. 

Planning committee members were generally enthusiastic about the plan and partnership with other municipalities.

Coun. Don McKay asked if there was a Plan B if the funding request is unsuccessful. 

Chisholme replied they will go back to other municipalities to see if they can contribute more but also noted some local hydro companies have expressed interest in the study. 

Committee chair Allan Alls said he was in favour of this but had heard concern hydro capacity might not be available for EV charging stations based on expected population and business growth. 

Chisholme said she had heard these concerns too but there will likely be a shift to smaller hydro production and residential solar that will help alleviate this. 

“Where we may see more energy needs in transportation, we’ll see less demand on the system from residential,” Chisholme. 

She added part of the study will look at adding solar to the charging stations.

The committee approved the recommendation which will go forward to county council for approval.