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3ThoughtThursday – New director, EV report launch, Huron County

This week is a big week for the Clean Energy Frontier as we welcomed a brand-new director of the program to the team here at the Nuclear Innovation Institute!

In early March, I (Chad) launched this blog to talk about all things clean energy and Bruce, Grey, Huron. I truly believe that we have one of the strongest clean energy stories of any region out there and we are well positioned to lead the way toward a net-zero future.

After this week, I’ll be turning things over the very talented Jessica Linthorne, the new Director of the Clean Energy Frontier program.

We’ll start off today by welcoming Jessica before I leave you with a couple more thoughts for the week!

1. Jessica Linthorne becomes Director of the Clean Energy Frontier program

If you have ever talked about economic development in the Bruce, Grey, Huron region then you know Jessica Linthorne.

Jessica joins the NII to take over the Clean Energy Frontier program after spending nine years working with the Town of Saugeen Shores, most recently as Director of Strategic Initiatives. She knows the region (she grew up in Georgian Bluffs) and has worked with clean energy companies through her role with Saugeen Shores.

I am incredibly excited that Jessica is taking over the program. We are in great hands with her leading the charge!

I will be heading up an exciting new project here at the NII. More details will be announced soon, so stay tuned.

2. Rural Ontario must get ready for an electric vehicle future

How many times have we talked about electric vehicles (EVs) on this blog? It’s been a recurring theme over the past few months. EVs will be a critical part of our efforts to decarbonize and reach net zero.

And the market for EVs is heating up. Despite the pandemic, 2020 was a record year for EV sales globally and just last week the Government of Canada announced a new mandate of 100% zero-emission new car and truck sales by the year 2035.

So, what does this mean for rural areas like Bruce, Grey and Huron that rely on a steady flow of passenger vehicle traffic for our tourism industry? That was the focus of Plugging In: Why Bruce, Grey and Huron must prepare for an electric vehicle future.

We partnered with Plug’n Drive to survey EV drivers about their perceptions of the charging infrastructure in the region. We also assessed our current charging network and looked at how it stacks up against the expectations of EV drivers when they are travelling. Here are the top takeaways from the report:

  • More than 83% of the 528 ZEV/EV drivers surveyed believe that it is difficult or vey difficult to access public charging in the Bruce, Grey, Huron area.

  • Across Bruce, Grey and Huron there are just 45 accessible charging stations with 111 individual plugs. Three quarters of these chargers are Level 2 or “opportunity chargers” requiring a lengthier wait for charging than their Level 3-DC/Quick charger counterparts. The dispersed distribution of these chargers does not constitute a regional charging “network”.

  • For road trip vacations and weekend getaways, more than 70% of EV drivers stated that they would only choose locations or would give preference to locations where the know they can access public charging.

  • While travelling in their EV, only 13% of EV drivers prefer to use overnight charging stations (Level 2 chargers). By comparison, 42% prefer highway stop locations (Level 3) and 36% prefer Level 2 on-street charging.

  • Global EV sales are increasing. 2020 was a record year despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with three million EVs sold worldwide accounting for 4% of global sales.

All of this makes the case that an EV future is coming and Bruce, Grey and Huron must be prepared to plug in. Check out the full report here.

3. Huron County and the Clean Energy Frontier

“This clean energy frontier will be good for all of us in this area and in the world moving forward,” Glen McNeil, Warden of Huron County.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Warden McNeil and talk about Huron County and the Clean Energy Frontier. Warden McNeil had many insightful comments on the benefits of working together across municipal boundaries and leaving our planet in better shape for future generations.

You can watch our full conversation below or check out the highlights here.


Chad Richards is a Director at the Nuclear Innovation Institute.


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