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Electric vehicle charging stations ‘spark’ funding in southern Alberta

Lethbridge Herald

May 28, 2022

An economic development alliance of thirty south-central Alberta communities has launched a program for funding electric vehicle charging stations.

An economic development alliance of thirty south-central Alberta communities has launched a program for funding electric vehicle charging stations.

SouthGrow Regional Initiative has launched its zero-emissions vehicle infrastructure program. It involves a series of electric vehicle charging stations throughout southern Alberta and the project is in place to advance accessibility to stations throughout the region.

SouthGrow is a regional economic development alliance working on projects that are regional in scope and “nobody else really does that at all” according to Executive Director Peter Casurella. He said Alberta is behind the rest of the country when it comes to the adoption of electric vehicles.

“We know that this is the way the industry going. So, this was an opportunity for us to lower the cost of transition because the transition is going to happen anyways and to encourage both our businesses and our municipalities to make sure that they’re working on this now while this funding available,” said Casurella.

He said the funding is available so these businesses and municipalities don’t have to pay for upgrades themselves further down the road. He said the only difficulty they have found is a bit of “cultural hesitation” from southern Alberta residents.

“People just need to be educated about the way the industry is going. It’s undeniable at this point,” said Casurella.

According to Casurella social media has been the source of “lots of misinformation” about electric vehicles. Adding to that is the inability to readily pick out electric vehicles, he explained.“You don’t see it. You’re not aware that the transition is happening around you… we’re lagging behind a lot of other places,” said Casurella.

He said there are jurisdictions in Quebec, Ontario and B.C. where electric vehicles account for close to 50 per cent of the market. According to statistics from the Government of Canada, 2021 saw zero-emission vehicles comprise 5.2 per cent of all new motor vehicles registered, an increase of 1.6 million.“

The density is rapidly, rapidly increasing and they see it on the ground, but we’re not there yet. We’re at the leading edge of the transition here in southern Alberta,” said Casurella.

Another issue facing electric vehicles in Alberta is the range of travel according to Casurella.

“That’s always been the holdup to adoption [of electric vehicles] is the problem of being able to charge… Range anxiety has been a real thing for the entire history of electric vehicles up to this point,” he explained.

Casurella said the first way to reduce range anxiety is by making southern Alberta accessible for both tourism and market adoption.“Every time that another organisation deploys charging infrastructure that makes the region more accessible creates more of an incentive for people to say, ‘Okay, I could buy an EV now’,” added Casurella.

Besides personal use, Casurella said there is financial incentives for municipalities themselves to accept electric vehicles for their own fleets.“They get that this is future proofing. They also get that they have to be leaders in their communities to showcase that they’re more than happy to make smart financial decisions about the transition [to electric vehicles],” said Casurella.

More information on SouthGrow Regional Initiative and how to apply for funding from the program can be found at


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