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An undated photo of electric vehicle charging equipment at the Aurora, Ont., GO Station.

In an effort to kick start to the use of electric vehicles, the Ontario government will invest $20-million in a network of battery-charging stations.

Premier Kathleen Wynne and Environment Minister Glen Murray, who announced the charging-station program on Tuesday at the Paris climate change conference, said the investment would mark the first allocation from the province's new $325-million Green Investment Fund.

Ian Bruce, director of science and policy at the David Suzuki Foundation, said the "commitment by the government of Ontario represents concrete action to address transportation, which is a major contributor to carbon pollution in every part of the country."

Ontario is a North American laggard in the electric car market. Only about 5,000 electronic vehicles ply the roads and the province has a grand total of five so-called fast-charge points, which are capable of bringing a car battery up to 80 per cent of capacity within 30 minutes or so. Three of those five are at Nissan and BMW dealerships, which sell electric vehicles.

The government said it expects two-thirds or more of the funds will go to fast-charging stations, which would cost $200,000 apiece. Some would be placed on highways, presumably at existing service stations, to allow inter-city travel in EVs. Others will be put within cities.  Far cheaper "Level 2" charging stations, which require several hours to top up a car battery, will also be built.

The investment will be made on an "application" basis. Companies, such as highway service station operators, will have to submit proposals to install the charging stations.

Ms. Wynne, who earlier this week in Paris announced the extension of the Ontario and Quebec carbon cap-and-trade network to Manitoba, said transportation is now the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the province, now that the coal-fired generating stations have been closed.

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