The City of Ottawa is following some local businesses in setting up electric car charging stations, partially to help current owners and partially to watch how the market grows.

There’s now a pilot charge station at City Hall, free for electric car drivers to charge up for two hours – that’s about half a “tank.”

Figures show about 170 electric cars are owned by people in Ottawa right now, with Hydro Ottawa’s CEO saying more charging stations could promote growth.

“If we build more of these charging stations, public charging stations, will people buy more electric cars or are people who are buying electric cars really concerned about their access to public charging stations?” said Bryce Conrad.

“I'm not sure which one, and that's what the point of this pilot project is."

Ricardo Borba, one of the first electric car owners in Ottawa, said the lack of charging stations isn’t a big downside because most owners charge at home, but it would be a plus.

"The same way you can find a gas station anywhere, it would be nice to find charging points any place in the city," he said.

One of those points is at Place d’Orleans in cooperation with Myers Orleans Chevrolet Buick GMC, sellers of the Chevrolet Volt.

“The fact that you can drive a car like this daily, as long as you commute under 60 to 70 kilometres a day and not have to spend any fuel," said general manager Dennis Langlois.

Borba said he knows first-hand there’s a big difference between electricity and gas prices.

“It's very cheap to drive,” he said. “Last month, for example, I drove nearly 1,600 kilometres and my hydro bill was $20 higher than it used to be."

Hydro Ottawa said they estimate the cost of their pilot project will be about $600 a year.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Norman Fetterley