The handful of drivers in the Yukon who own electric vehicles now have another place to quickly juice up their rides.
The Yukon government unveiled the territory’s third public electric vehicle charging station at the Yukon Transportation Museum in Whitehorse Nov. 13, with Environment Minister Pauline Frost, Highways and Public Works (HPW) Minister Richard Mostyn and museum executive director Janna Swales on-hand for the occasion.
“Well, this is really fun,” Swales told reporters. “This project has been quite a few years in the making … One of the things I’ve been increasingly interested in over the past number of years is transportation energy networks and supply chains, so transportation, planes, trains, trucks, feet, canoes — they don’t live in isolation, you know?”
Resembling a gas station air pump more than a traditional fuel dispenser, the charging station cost $2,000, with another $10,000 for a local contractor to install it, which involved trenching, cabling, permitting pouring a concrete base.
It’s free to use, with charging sessions limited to four hours and the transportation museum footing the electricity bill. The Yukon government estimates that a four-hour charging session will cost approximately $3; the station also has an option to introduce credit card payments in the future.
The charging station’s two predecessors are located at the Yukon government’s main administrative building and at the Mount Lorne recycle depot, the latter of which holds the title of being the first public electric vehicle charging station in the territory. It’s also completely solar-powered and was a community-driven initiative.
Mostyn told media that, based on registrations, there are currently 12 electric vehicles in the territory. Among the dozen is a Chevrolet Spark EV the Yukon government purchased in 2016 as part of its electric car pilot project and that staff have affectionately dubbed “Sparky.”
“That’s a really small fleet but it’s significant, it’s really the vanguard,” Mostyn said, explaining that there’s potential for electric vehicles to catch on in the Yukon, and in particular in Whitehorse, where the average commute to work and back in a vehicle is only 13 kilometres.
Electric vehicles can be charged using any power outlet, Cameron Kos, chief operating officer of HPW’s fleet vehicle agency branch, explained afterwards, but specialized charging stations are able to deliver more power, more quickly. For example, Sparky, which can get about 120 kilometres on a single charge (or about 80 km when it’s -40 C out) would take up to a full day to charge using a standard home outlet, but only about four to six hours using a charging station.
The electric vehicle pilot project was the main motivator for installing a new charging station, Kos added.
“It’s more of the government wanting to be a role model and to set these in place for this pilot project,” he said. “The pilot project is the driver of the charging stations, and the spin-off benefit of this one is to be able to offer it to the public … early adopters of electric vehicles can take advantage of the charger here.”
Frost told reporters during the unveiling that studying and encouraging the use of electric vehicles in the North goes hand-in-hand with addressing climate change.
“(The) Yukon government is committed to greener and cleaner transportation. We know that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Yukon. These emissions are not only from trucks transporting goods but also from cars and … other vehicles we drive on a daily basis,” she said.
“Being serious about addressing climate changes means supporting options for alternative transportation and renewable energy. Increased use of electrical vehicles reduces our (reliance) on fossil fuels and cuts costs.”
Frost added that besides electric vehicles, the Yukon government is also trying to promote other means of transportation for commuters, including carpooling and taking public transportation.
The Yukon government currently does not have plans to install any more charging stations.
Contact Jackie Hong at email@example.com