Charging stations at the Whitewood PetroCan. SaskPower would like to assist with the setup of 20 such sites along major routes in Saskatchewan that are currently underserved. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

REGINA – SaskPower is announced a program promoting the installation of approximately 20 electric vehicle fast-charging stations across the province. The number of actual chargers will vary per location, but will likely average around two per site.

The announcement was made on Feb. 25.

The charging stations are to be installed along major Saskatchewan highway corridors. SaskPower is investing approximately $2 million towards this program, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 25.

Currently, only Teslas can charge at at Tesla Supercharger, like this one in Brandon. However, according to Electrek.co, Tesla’s Elon Musk anounced in the summer of 2021 that Tesla would be opening up its charging network to other manufacturer’s cars. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

These chargers are analogous to gas stations for petroleum-fueled vehicles, except that they take much longer to recharge an electric vehicle than refueling a liquid-fueled vehicle. The charging speed is a function of how fast the vehicle’s battery can take the power, and how much amperage the charging station will provide. Fast charging stations are not universal, with several different standards. In Canada, most are CCS, CHADeMO or Tesla. While Teslas have adapters to allow them to use the other models, only a Tesla can charge at a Tesla charging stations. For non-Teslas, most models offered in North America use the CCS standard. However, at charging stations recently installed at Whitewood and Estevan, for instance, most non-Tesla charging pedestals offer both CCS and CHADeMO.

And it’s precisely those sort of sites SaskPower is looking at.

“Though there are still a relatively small number of EVs on Saskatchewan roads, it’s expected that this market will grow,” said Troy King, acting President and CEO at SaskPower in a release. “It’s important to prepare for a future where more customers drive electric vehicles and expect the infrastructure to be in place to do so.”

Co-op fast-charger at Whitewood. Photo by Brian Zinchuk

 

SaskPower spokesperson Scott McGregor said by phone that SaskPower has performed a couple studies over the years and determined Saskatchewan is lacking in appropriate EV charging infrastructure, especially along major corridors.

“For example, if someone with an EV wants to drive from Saskatoon to Calgary, they’d have to take a pretty sizeable detour to ensure they have enough charging stations along the way,” McGregor said.

He didn’t have technical details such as the amperage at each station. “It’s all still being worked out,” he said.

As for the routes, he said preferences will be given to municipalities, First Nations, communities and organizations along major corridors where there isn’t an abundance of charging stations already.

He said it could be bigger towns along Highways 16, 6 or 11, as examples. “Where those all comes down to who applies,” he said.

The fast-charging stations will not be SaskPower-branded. Instead, they will be branded by the business who installs is. SaskPower is not looking at its own network of chargers, as far as McGregor knows.

Individual businesses or organizations will contribute a portion of the funding towards their charging station and will be responsible for its construction and subsequent operation.

McGregor said, “We are not in the vehicle business. We are in the power business. So we are looking to ensure that we are prepared for emerging technologies that could pull from our grid. So, if tomorrow there was a large uptick in datamining or cryptomining here, that would be something we would have to take into consideration and prepare for. Electric vehicles are one of those segments that will see an increase on the power grid and on the demand there, so it’s something we are working to prepare for.”

Starting this month, SaskPower will begin accepting applications from businesses or organizations who are interested in building fast charging infrastructure.

McGregor said, “Any businesses that are interested in setting a pre assessment meeting, are encouraged to research reach out to us as soon as possible.”

 

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