Hydro-Quebec partners with companies to offer electric car charging stations

Hydro-Québec and its partners—RONA, les Rôtisseries St-Hubert, METRO and the Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT)—are pleased to announce the creation of "The Electric Circuit", Canada’s first public charging network for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). Supplied with clean, renewable energy, the first charging stations will be operational in early 2012 at the founding partners’ business sites and at several AMT park-and-ride facilities.

PEV operators will be able to drive worry-free, knowing that a public network of charging stations is available to meet their needs. Initially, "The Electric Circuit" will consist of about a hundred 240-V charging stations. Quick-charge (400-V) stations will be rolled out in 2012, once they have obtained Canadian certification.

"We are proud to be able to count on partners of this caliber whose banners can be seen at over 900 locations in Québec. These are solid, well-established companies that, like Hydro-Québec, put a high priority on sustainable development, customer satisfaction and growth in electric vehicle use," said Hydro-Québec CEO Thierry Vandal. "While the vast majority of recharging will be done at home and at work, the availability of a public charging network is essential to meet customers’ backup or emergency needs."

Partners with vision

"RONA is committed to becoming a sustainable development leader in our industry in Canada. We believe that installing electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lots of about ten big-box stores in the Québec and Montréal areas is a concrete way for us to support our customers in their efforts to contribute responsibly to a sustainable community," explained Claude Bernier, RONA’s Executive Vice President, Marketing and Customer Innovations.

"Sustainable development has been essential at les Rôtisseries St-Hubert for a number of years. We are very proud to be part of ”The Electric Circuit and allow our customers to charge their electric vehicles while on the go. For the past 60 years, we have been an industry leader on many fronts, a trend we want to continue. In fact, our Boucherville restaurant was recently selected to take part in the all-electric vehicle trial," explained Daniel Cousineau, President of Les Rôtisseries St-Hubert ltée.

"At METRO, we are proud of our accomplishments in sustainability and recognize that much is still to be done. To go beyond our distribution role and become an important player in this field, we must continue to innovate. We are proud to be part of this catalytic project and to raise public awareness about a more ecological mode of transportation," said Marc Giroux, Vice President of marketing at METRO.

"The AMT is partnering with Hydro-Québec to implement new technologies that will facilitate travel for thousands of electric car drivers. By installing electric charging stations at the AMT’s park-and-ride facilities, we are providing electric car drivers with direct access to public transit. The charging stations are indicative of the AMT’s firm intention to increase the role of renewable energy in the operation of public transit systems," noted AMT President and CEO Joël Gauthier.

Customer Service

The network of charging stations will be rolled out gradually, as plug-in electric vehicles arrive on the Québec market. The metropolitan areas of Montréal and Québec will be the dual starting points of ”The Electric Circuit”. The rollout will then be extended to other cities and sites in the province.

Charging station locations will be chosen by the partners on the basis of criteria such as ease of access, with the objectives being accessible recharging for the greatest number of users possible, along with a quick, simple method of payment. Charging will cost a flat fee of around $2, which will include the cost of the electricity and access to a prime parking spot.

PEV drivers will also have access to a charging station locator service provided by Hydro-Québec and to a 24/7 telephone help line run by CAA Quebec.

"It is natural fit for us to support Hydro-Québec and its partners in implementing this network, since our organization has been teaming up with drivers since the beginning of car travel. When the automobile evolves, we evolve along with it," said Pierre Beaudoin, Senior Director, Technical Services for CAA-Québec.

Call for Tenders: Charging Stations

To procure a first set of at least 100 charging stations for ”The Electric Circuit, Hydro-Québec will be issuing an initial call for tenders in the summer of 2011. All interested charging station suppliers will be eligible to take part. Before installation may proceed, however, the stations will have to be certified and be tested in a climate-control chamber at Hydro-Québec’s research institute to make sure they can withstand the rigors of Québec weather. Further calls for tenders will be issued progressively, as market needs require.

Establishment of ”The Electric Circuit marks the first stage in the development of the charging infrastructure required to support the operation of PEVs in Québec. This initiative ties in well with the Québec government’s electric vehicle action plan unveiled last April 7.