News + Media
Electric-Car Charging Station At Gas Station In Tar-Sands Land
2014-11-25
Share This Blog Entry:

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

Matthew Klippenstein, November 25, 2014 - Green Car Reports

--

Electric-car charging stations are still remarkably rare at gas stations, though a handful exist in the Pacific Northwest.

But earlier this year, the Petro-Canada station in Crossfield, Alberta, installed a charging station. It's free to use, too.

Perhaps not too remarkable, except that this is the heart of Canada's tar-sands oil region.

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

The charger itself is a Sun Country 100-amp model that delivers up to 19.2 kilowatts of power, if the plug-in vehicle can accept Level 2 charging at those speeds.

All about Crossfield

Crossfield is about 30 miles (50 km) north of Calgary, Canada's fossil-fuel capital, along Highway 2, which connects the business center to the provincial capital of Edmonton.

The cities are about 185 miles (300 km) apart, a distance that only Teslas can cover in one shot.

Happily, there are an assortment of chargers along the way, so other battery-electric drivers can make the trip.

Not that many may do so: hanks to cattle ranching and oil rustling, Alberta is prime pick-up truckcountry.

Despite an Oregon-sized population of about 4 million, Alberta is presently home to only about 100 battery-electric vehicles, along with perhaps 100 more plug-in hybrids.

Services for every car

Gasoline producer and retailer Petro-Canada – a division of Suncor, the world's largest producer of tar-sands bitumen – isn't necessarily making a push to be plug-in electric vehicle owners' pit stop of choice.

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging stationPetro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station


Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

The Petro-Canada station in Crossfield is independently owned and operated by a franchisee.

The company owning the franchise operates about 20 gas stations across Canada – and depending how well things go with this pilot installation, they may consider adding electric vehicle infrastructure to other stations as well.

To quote a company representative, the electric-vehicle outreach is another way of providing services to motorists, "and that's what we do".

If you're one of Alberta's plug-in owners, or if you're planning a cross-continent trip, here's a chance to show support for charging stations in unlikely areas.

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

Petro-Canada vs 'greenwashing'

Oil conglomerates around the world generally and in the oil sands specifically have a somewhat mixed record on issues from emissions to climate change.

That may lead some readers to have mixed feelings about the idea of gas stations offering electric-car charging stations. Or of oil companies sponsoring such events as Sun Country Highway's E-Mazing Race, which Petro-Canada did.

Sun Country CEO Kent Rathwell addressed the "greenwashing" question head-on at the recent EV2014VE conference in Vancouver.

He commented that he would've vetoed Petro-Canada's sponsorship, if he thought that accusations of greenwashing would become a factor in coverage of the event.

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

He related his experience working to help Suncor reduce its environmental footprint.

He emphasized that individuals he worked with obviously cared deeply and sincerely about sustainability and stewardship.

They did their utmost to make a positive difference, he suggested, within the constraints of the industry they found themselves in.

The broader lesson may be that if the world were black and white, we would all be moral zebras of one stripe or other.

Petro-Canada gas station, Crossfields, Alberta, with electric-car charging station

AUTHOR'S NOTE: To avoid concerns over subtle bias, it may be appropriate for me to disclose my own perspective. A chemical engineer by training, I have friends in the "oil patch" who are great people. I've also donated money to anti-pipeline groups, because it's a great planet, and the path of the past won't lead us to the future we want.

The fortunes of Alberta (and by extension Canada) are largely tied to the wickedly-cyclical petroleum sector, and are subject to its booms and busts. To me, the path to permanent prosperity – and a pollution-free prosperity at that – is to unleash that engineering genius on other fields.

I generally support policies that would shrink the fossil-fuel sector, freeing up entrepreneurs to disrupt other industries, while generously supporting negatively-impacted workers.

Read the article at Green Car Reports