City and Hydro Ottawa unveil charging station for electric cars

Elizabeth Kiy

Elizabeth Kiy

Mayor Jim Watson and River Ward Coun. Maria McRae unveil the new electric vehicle charging station.

Downtown Ottawa’s electric vehicle drivers can get around a little easier these days, thanks to a new charging station outside city hall.

The station, located near the building’s Lisgar Street entrance, was unveiled Thursday by Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, River Ward Coun. Maria McRae, chair of the city’s environment committee, and Bryce Conrad, president and CEO of Hydro Ottawa.

Watson said encouraging green transportation choices is a priority for the city.

“By providing space for this charging station right here at city hall, for electric cars and plug-in hybrids,” said Watson, “we’re making it easier for owners of these kind of vehicles to travel downtown for business, recreation, and other activities.”

For the next six months, electric vehicle owners can use the charging station for no cost as part of a pilot project. Conrad said the city and Hydro Ottawa will use information gathered from the project to determine how to move forward.

“It’s a new technology. It’s a bit of a brave new world for us,” said Conrad. “We actually don’t know what to expect. We don’t know what the uptake is. There are about 170 electric cars in Ottawa. How many of them will actually use this facility is what this pilot project is meant to determine.”

The charging station is a collaboration between the city, which is providing the parking space, and Hydro Ottawa, which is covering the electricity. Both parties are splitting the $25,000 installation cost.

“This pilot project will allow Hydro Ottawa to test charging technologies, determine operational requirements, and consider billing and payment processes,” said Conrad.

While a full charge for an electric vehicle takes about four hours, the charging station is intended for quick recharges, and is available for up to two hours. Hydro Ottawa estimates if the station is used non-stop, the hydro cost would be less than $600 a year.

The city is also purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles for the municipal fleet. Mayor Watson says last Wednesday’s draft budget set aside $2.5 million for green fleet purchases over the next five years.