Public charging stations

A grant of close to $60,000 to install charging stations in strategic locations in the municipality

Anyone who has visited North Hatley will agree: this charming village in the Eastern Townships is known for its quaint shops, picturesque setting and warm hospitality. The municipality, with a population of no more than 675 residents, has managed to preserve its unique character over the years. Although seemingly untouched by time, the village is nevertheless a pioneer in Québec when it comes to electromobility, proving that transportation electrification is within reach for all communities.

A need that is expected to grow

Mathieu Abran, a municipal inspector in North Hatley, unintentionally became an electromobility ambassador for his team after purchasing an EV and noticing that the nearest public charging stations were at least 7 or 8 km away, in communities that attracted less tourism than North Hatley.

When the government announced that the sale of gasoline-powered vehicles would be banned starting in 2035 and the village’s only service station closed, one thing became clear: the number of EV drivers was likely to grow significantly in the coming years. “We didn’t want tourists who drive electric vehicles to stop visiting us because they couldn’t charge their vehicles in North Hatley,” said Mr. Abran.

Support for electromobility in Québec municipalities

To help municipalities implement charging infrastructure, Hydro-Québec introduced a program through the Electric Circuit that offers financial assistance for projects to install standard charging stations in streets and municipal parking lots.

The grants cover 100% of the investment expenses up to $12,000 for each single charging station and $24,000 for each double charging station, based on allowable expenses, which means municipalities can provide their residents with an additional service at a very low cost.

When Mr. Abran learned about the program, he was convinced the village needed an adapted fleet of charging stations able to meet the needs of residents and tourists.

“The program helps municipalities with the financial challenge of purchasing and installing charging stations. The grants cover 100% of the cost of purchasing and installing charging stations, and the income generated from using the charging stations will cover the management costs. It made complete sense for us to participate in the program.”

— Mathieu Abran, North Hatley inspector

A project that is gaining ground

It was through this program that the Municipality of North Hatley installed a curbside charging station with two connectors. It is strategically located near shops and inns on one of North Hatley’s busiest roads.

During the tourist season and on weekends, the occupancy rate of the charging station frequently reaches 100%. The income generated has also far exceeded expectations. “We had anticipated income of approximately $200, but instead, we reached close to $2,000 in the first year alone,” said Mr. Abran. The income is more than sufficient to cover the costs associated with managing the charging station.

Interesting facts about the first double curbside charging station in North Hatley

856 charging sessions in the first year

2.25 h average charging duration

$2,000 $ income in the first year

100% occupancy during the tourist season and on weekends

The first phase of the project was so successful and the demand so high that the municipality decided to add four charging stations in the municipal parking lot in 2022. Tourists and residents alike flock to the area to enjoy the green spaces and outdoor activities.

Assisting municipalities every step of the way

In addition to the financial assistance, the program is designed to simplify the steps involved for municipalities. First, the application form an be filled out online. Then, each step of the project is clearly explained. “The documents are practically complete. You just have to fill in a few boxes, have the documents approved by the appropriate authorities and sign the agreements,” explained Mr. Abran. “Hydro-Québec even provides an example of a draft resolution.”

Once the application is accepted, the municipality receives a carefully detailed installation guide that includes technical specifications for the excavation and electrical work and so on. Precise and useful information about requesting bids and guiding the work is also included. And if there are any questions or problems, a Hydro-Québec team member is never far away. “The program coordinator, Nathalie Raymond, was available throughout the project. We could communicate with her by email or phone and more often than not, she got back to us the very same day,” added Mr. Abran. “I didn’t feel like a number,” he noted.

Within reach for all municipalities

“People tend to think that only big cities can install charging infrastructure, but the truth is that it is within reach for all municipalities, regardless of their size or their human and financial resources,” stated Mr. Abran. “In North Hatley, two members of the municipal administration worked on this project on a part-time basis, while continuing their work on many other files, and they didn’t have specific expertise regarding charging infrastructure. If our small municipality was able to carry out a project like this—on two occasions—I think that every city and village in Québec can help to expand the public charging network.”

Municipalities are encouraged to participate in this program as soon as possible. First, because Québec has undertaken a vast project—that of decarbonizing the province. In this context, electrification is one of the many ways of reaching the established objectives and participating in the collective effort. And also, because the grant program will be in effect until 2028 and has set an objective of installing 4,500 charging stations.

“It’s still early days for transportation electrification,” said Nathalie Raymond, Advisor – Transportation Electrification at Hydro-Québec. “The number of electric vehicles on our roads will continue to grow rapidly. The program won’t last forever. Municipalities that are considering it should take action now. This is the time to take advantage of the program.”

About North Hatley

Zone de texteLocated in the regional county municipality (MRC) of Memphrémagog in Estrie, the village of North Hatley has a population of about 675 people. Immersed in nature, this charming municipality is among the most popular tourist destinations in Québec. Each summer, visitors enjoy its picturesque setting, heritage homes, original boutiques, cafés and bistros. The departure and arrival point of the Route verte, North Hatley is a site that is popular with cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts, who enjoy the area’s abundant nature and panoramic views of the surrounding hills.

About the grant program for the installation of charging stations

Under the program, all Québec municipalities are encouraged to propose a project. To do so, they simply need to fill out an application form and submit it during a call for project proposals period. Hydro-Québec launches two calls for project proposals each year. In effect since May 2021, the program is offering grants to install 4,500 charging stations across Québec by 2029. Learn more about the program.

Hydro-Québec offers several measures and types of financial assistance to support municipalities in their decarbonization efforts, in particular to implement energy efficiency solutions or demand-side management strategies. Visit Hydro-Québec’s website (in French only) to discover all the possibilities that are available to your municipality.

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