ATCO Bolt and charger

The Peaks To Prairies EV Charging Network project was formally announced in Lethbridge. Feb. 4 and there are a lot of people excited.

“The project was initiated because people understood that this was an opportunity for the local communities to benefit from this rapidly growing technology,” Jen Grebeldinger, Communications Lead for the Community Energy Association said. 

The Peaks to Prairies project was created by a group of southern Alberta municipalities and economic development groups, including SouthGrow Regional Initiative, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, City of Lethbridge, City of Calgary and Medicine Hat College. The partners came together in 2016 with an interest in developing a regional electric vehicle charging network to facilitate emissions reductions, economic development and tourism.

“They hired our organization to facilitate the mapping and feasibility study elements,” Grebeldinger said. “ We completed some of the mapping to make sure drivers had options for charging and can safely get between travel throughout the region. They looked at it and then they helped guide some of the potential locations and general locations of where the charging stations would be.”

According to Grebeldinger, planning for the project began back in 2017 and the initial work was really focused on mapping and creating a network that would be able to meet the demand for travel. Another part of the initial planning involved writing grant applications to gather funds for it. 

“The Peaks to Prairies EV network exemplifies regional collaboration to build and diversify local economies while contributing to climate action goals,” Megan Lohmann, head of community energy management and project manager for the Peaks to Prairies Network, said. “This community-led approach is a template for other Alberta regions, as to how we can get further by working together.”

This project proceeded with three key objectives in mind, Grebeldinger says: to support the adoption of electric vehicles; to enhance tourism and economic development opportunities in southern Alberta; and to highlight renewable energy resources in the region.

“Supporting new electric vehicle charging stations will help Alberta transition to a lower-carbon future. This grassroots initiative is proof that Albertans are leading the way in projects that diversify our economy, create jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.” said Hon. Shannon Phillips, Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office. 

In total, the Peaks to Prairies Project cost $2 million and was funded with assistance from sources including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Government of Alberta, The City of Calgary, SouthGrow Regional Initiative, Alberta SouthWest Regional Alliance, City of Lethbridge, City of Medicine Hat and Medicine Hat College. 

“Peaks to Prairies reflects the commitment we have in southern Alberta to work collaboratively across the region to support development that is sustainable and forward-thinking,” Brian (Barney) Reeves, chair of Alberta SouthWest, said. “Through this project, we are not only shining a light on the advancement of renewable energy generated in our region, but we are ensuring that our communities can benefit from this emerging form of transportation.”

20 Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFC) and Level 2 stations will be installed throughout the reason and both owned and operated by ATCO. Each of the 20 stations will be powered by ATCOenergy using renewable energy from the province.It will operate on the FLO Network.

Grebeldinger says that charging stations are expected to be installed in Lethbridge, Canmore, Morley, Calgary – Olympic Park, Calgary – Stoney Trail, Calgary – East, Calgary – Signal Hill, Nanton, Claresholm, Crowsnest Pass, Pincher Creek, Fort Macleod, Taber, Medicine Hat, Chain Lakes Reservoir, Carmangay, Waterton Lakes, Cardston, Warner, and Longview with the network’s projected completion date being December 2019.

“Low-carbon transportation and affordable electric vehicles are becoming a reality,” Marshall Wilmot, President and CEO of ATCOenergy, said. “At ATCOenergy, we see it as part of our ongoing commitment to creating a clean energy future for the communities we serve. We are very proud to be working with our partners in southern Alberta to establish a robust charging network in the province.”

According to Grebeldinger, benefits of investing in electric cars include having a quiet car to drive, fewer moving parts, a significantly less amount of maintenance, less emissions, and electric cars are significantly more efficient in how use the energy.

“It's a growing technology,” Grebeldinger said. “It's an exciting thing because it's a growing technology that offers drivers a reliable, convenient car that is safe to drive that's going to save them money. The technology also reduces the amount of emissions going out into each community. There are lots of small communities in southern Alberta and this technology ensures that those communities are getting the same environmental and economic benefits that other regions of Alberta and Canada get.”

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