Ontario’s 75 Utilities A Hindrance To Electric Vehicle Uptake In Canada?

AUG 12 2014 BY MARK KANE 19

Fusion Energi Plugged In

Fusion Energi Plugged In

Since 2009, Ontario had a goal to have 5% electric cars on the roads by 2020, which would be some 380,000. After over four years,  there is only 2,500 or so registered.

According to an article on CTV News, EV adoption is hindered by an overabundance of utility firms.

Ontario had 393 utilities at its peak in 1932, and now has 75 left today, which according to article, is still too many and holding back upgrades needed for EVs.

Hossam Gaber, an energy professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology stated:

A lot of work needs to be done (à) if Ontario is going to move toward infrastructure to support electrification of vehicles.”

“Having co-ordination is important to avoid waste of time, waste of resources and also, making sure we are not lacking or losing something important.”

Thomas Timmins, head of the global renewable energy practice at the law firm Gowlings, says that there is needs to be a lot of power for fast charging:

“Everyone’s going to be like, ‘I need to charge in an hour. I need to charge in 15 minutes. No, no, I need to charge in five minutes.”

Indicated remedy for grid upgrade is merger of all those small utilities in to several large utilities.

Our Own Jay Cole Has Received More Than A Few Ontario Rebate Cheques In The Mail

Our Own J Cole (Jay around here) Has Received More Than A Few Ontario Rebate Cheques In The Mail

To be honest, we don’t think that electric cars are a big problem for the grid and research generally confirms that. EVs in most cases are charged at home at night, which doesn’t require increase of the installed capacity.

Also, the quick charging shouldn’t be a problem, at least not because there are a lot of utilities. In normal conditions, every utility should be happy to have a new customer who wants buy a lot of energy and this is incomprehensible why would they worry about?

We could expect that when there will be real demand for power they will just invest in additional production capacity and then deliver.

Finally, in Europe where there is probably 100-times less utilities (few in one country at best), one of the CHAdeMO Association representatives told us that 50 kW chargers are okay and that even at this level, sometimes operators have problems (need large investments) to utilize full 50 kW because of weak grid connections. This confirms that this is cost/demand equation rather than related to the number of utilities.

Source: CTV News

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19 Comments on "Ontario’s 75 Utilities A Hindrance To Electric Vehicle Uptake In Canada?"

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If we had lower rates, or special off-peak programs like I’ve read here and other places, we’d see much higher adoption.

The cheapest off-peak rates are about 11.5c/kWh (7pm-7am)

If we had a ‘super off peak’ with true value rates between, say 11pm-5am, that would not only further encourage people to charge only when there is excess, but cheaper rates will also spur adoption faster.

I would think few would need more than 6h to charge at 240, and most would be willing to schedule charges to save 50% or more.

That also reduces the need to do upgrades in infrastructure for peaks, and more electricity sold overnight means more revenue to do those upgrades for daytime peaks for those that do top up then.

Good point!
Also, I see an opportunity for battery storage at charging site.
That would allow them to recharge at a viable pace whithin the off peak hour and be ready to transfer that energy when needed without having much of an impact on the infrastructure.

Given the price of gas in Canada, 11.5 cents is NOT holding back EV adoption…seriously, people, that’s cheap “fuel”…there is something else going on…

You are right. Its not the electricity costs, as gas is about about $5 gallon and overnight power is under 10 cents a kWh. (If you have solar you get paid 39 cents for excess back to the grid in Ontario too) Leasing has traditionally been the problem. In the US about 70% of cars not named Tesla are leased because the federal credit along with the OEM’s desire to move metal means $250ish/month for 24/36 month leases are quite common. Not so much in Canada. A Volt lease (currently the ‘best seller’) for example will run you about $550-$600 month over 60 months bottom line (after taxes/including credit). Volt goes for $36,896 CDN ($33,770 USD) Nissan has started to run an ‘ok’ program for the 2015 base LEAF which should help, its $350ish/month (all-in) for the base with the $8500 rolled in and a $1,300ish deposit. LEAF is $31,798 CDN ($29,000USD). If you want to get away from the base it’ll jump up close to $500 again. Basically if you pay cash (or finance – often at 0% or thereabouts), you can get a great deal on a EV – thousands off MSRP plus an $8,500 cheque in the… Read more »

You can’t get under 10 – my price is accounting for all delivery charges, etc, the final price you pay per kWh at the lowest tier (assuming you already have electricity service and are paying the fixed charge)

Electricity is a great running cost, no doubt. But it can be even lower. And the greater the difference, the easier it is to sell people.

How easy would it be to convince you to get an EV when it’s 5x less to run?
How about 20x?

Anyone can see that 7pm and 7am aren’t true off-peak and are inflating the “off-peak” rate. (Just look at ieso graphs)
Offering vastly cheaper rates in the overnight hours, as was my main point, will provide great incentive to use the grid when it has the most capacity. And thus relieve strain on infrastructure at peak times while also providing the funding to get the infrastructure done.
In a way, the opposite of the ‘if you build it, they will come’ scenario.

I understand your point, but Canadians aren’t close to “doing the math” on electricity costs to run an EV at all.

I can ask anyone on the street and say how much do you think it costs me to go a 300 miles in my LEAF, and a guarantee you 95 out of 100 won’t come anywhere close to knowing that number.

Even if electricity was as high as 20 cent a kWh, that would be ~$2.75 to go 60 miles in a LEAF, and equivalent gas car (~30 mpg) is about $10 easy. The number (at around 4x lower) is already low enough where it doesn’t mean a heck of a lot.

Even if you cut electricity down to a nickel a kWh, if you tell someone it is .70 cents to go 60 miles vs $2.75, I doubt even a single person would then decide to pull a trigger on a $600 Volt lease.

The cost to operate is rendered moot because of the huge costs to lease (which is where to bulk of EV sales comes from).

Of course, part of Ontario’s Electricity’s price issue is maintaining and upgrading the ‘clean’ Nuclear Generators, much more than the FIT (Fee-In-Tarrif) programs.

Also you can now lease the Mercedes smart ED for just $99 a month, no down payment, just pay the shipping, tire tax, air conditioning tax, etc. on delivery!

Another thing hindering adoption in Ontario is RANGE (especially when it’s cold).

Things are relatively far apart outside of the GTA. Granted, a good percentage of our population lives within the GTA, but there are a large number of satellite cities and many Ontarians (like myself) commute further per day than what the EV industry has on offer (unless we all get Teslas).

When a reasonably priced EV hits the market with a 150-200 mile range, expect the sales to pick up.

In Canada, ‘commutes’ are more often over 50 miles each way by those with the earnings to look at EV’s so workplace charging is currently a make/break point in the uptake of Electric Vehicles!

One nice recent discovery of mine: the rebates for a personal home charger, which cover the hardware seperately from the installation, allows me to get the rebate to buy one, but my employer to get the rebate for installing it at my place of work!

This can actually become a catalyst for a co-worker to then consider an EV, knowing they can charge at work, as well as at home: and since his one-way commute is ~100 Kms (62 miles), it begins to become viable for him then!

We work different shifts, so little competition for the charging station at work, and I live so close, that once a week charging would be fine for me.

The work charger could help up to three workers, if situated right. One on each of 3 shifts: Days, Afternoons, and myself on Midnights!

As usual many people commenting but I’ll bet none of you have an electric car. Tesla,Tesla, Tesla that is all people seem to know when it com to commuting over the lower range of the pure electrics. I own two Volts and although I don’t have a commute over 30 km per day one way if there were more charge stations I would be close to 100% electric. If you look at the CAA map of charging stations most are dealerships with some major restrictions and should be removed from the map, leaving you with squat! But as usual in Canada we talk ourselves to death before we actually move on an issue. Start installing and stop talking!

You can’t force people to buy what they don’t want to buy. At least not in Canada or the USA. Yet.

If people don’t want a $35k compact EREV/PHEV then they don’t want one.

If they want a 200 EPA mile $35k BEV that has more or less comparable features and value than other cars in its class before they buy an EV that is when they will jump on the BEV revolution.

The $35k compact EREV/PHEV “people don’t want to buy” is the top selling PEV in Canada by a large margin.

I’ll take a car I can buy today over a theoretical future car anyday.

Thomas Timmins, head of the global renewable energy practice at the law firm Gowlings, says “Everyone’s going to be like.”

Is Thomas a 17 year old girl from Beverly Hills?

Are there really 380000 times 20 = 8million cars in Ontario. We need 380000 fewer carz by 2020, instead of 380000 BEVs. We have a traffic congestion problem that will not be solved by more EVs.

The Southeastern United States has utility monopolies, yet having few utility firms has not spurred electric vehicle adoption or charging infrastructure construction. I don’t see a linkage between number of utilities and adoption.

Most Chevrolet dealerships in Ontario advertise Volts at list price (with one notable exception in Ottawa), and they never mention the $8500 government rebate. In short they are not interested in selling Volts.

Is the 80 cents per kilowatt-hour subsidy for solar panel systems still in effect? I had heard from a young disgruntled Model S owner that THAT is the reason power prices had doubled since they are paying a bonanza for Solar Panel Owners. Many systems supposedly are not even tied into the house, since 100% of the power is just there to get 80 cents per kwh.

My system in Buffalo, NY went online exactly 2 months ago. If I had been compensated at that rate, I would have made $2000 so far, and it would be a huge profit center to me, at the expense of my neighbors.

(Any overage at the anniversary I expect to be paid 4-5 cents per kwh, not 80).

Ostensibly, Even Tesla owners apparently are mad at other canadians, I met this guy (an enginneering student) at the Tororo Service Center in Mississauga.

Hey Bill, I was involved in this program ‘back in the day’, its true on older systems you could be paid back about 80 cents, but it gradually has been scaled back over time. That being said it is still 39.6 cents for rooftop/residential solar (on first 10 kW system, then its 35.5 up to 100 kW) It isn’t variable either, you sign up for a 20 year contract. Overnight rates recently moved up in 2012, currently they fluctuate in season from 7.2 to 7.8 cents per kWh (6.6 to 7.1 cents US) but there is also added delivery/paydown on top of that…so add about 50% before you hit bottom line/taxes. For context it was 4.4 to 5.5 cents/kWh 4 years ago in 2010 – so up 50% this decade. Personally I don’t have a problem with that bump, as that was the cost of getting renewables to come online in the future, straightening out nuclear, hydro, etc … and completely doing away with coal factories/production (no small feat). Sidenote about rage against solar users rising the overall price for everyone…solar production is still very low. In 2013 it accounted for .8% of the whole (full 2013 generating stats), maybe… Read more »

Bill, when the paid price was at the 80.2 cent rate, a 10 Kw Roof-top system in Ontario could cost about $80,000 installed. As Solar panel prices dropped, the rebate dropped.

The best advertised price I have seen lately for this same 10 Kw System is about $30,000 – so there is currently a slight edge be fitting an approved install, but that will likely be dropped at the next program contract run.

Nuclear plants and old grids in Ontario need so much work that they are the real culprits of the higher priced Kwh’s on the bill.

Highering Nuke contractors from Chicago to fix Ontario CanDo Reactor plants cost’s lots! (I met the contractor of reference in person, so have an idea where some of that money left the Province.)