Friday, October 31st9.3°C
21625
23823

Ontario's 75 utilities hinder rise of electric cars: experts

Ontario's overabundance of utility firms may pose a major roadblock to the province's plan to boost electric car ownership, some experts say.

The experts say Ontario's 75 independently operated utilities often overlap their efforts and breed inefficiency, holding back upgrades needed so the grid can support what the province expects will be an influx of electric cars in the next few years.

"A lot of work needs to be done (…) if Ontario is going to move toward infrastructure to support electrification of vehicles," said Hossam Gaber, an energy professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology.

"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."

Plug'n Drive, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the move to electric cars, said about 2,500 of the province's approximately seven million cars are electric — less than half a per cent.

The province said in 2009 it aims for one in 20 cars to be electric by 2020 — at least 380,000, based on current figures.

Thomas Timmins, head of the global renewable energy practice at the law firm Gowlings, said grid upgrades are needed as demand for power grows exponentially with charging speed. Fast charging — under an hour — uses up to 10 times the power a household usually consumes.

"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,'" he said.

Some small-scale utilities have as few as three employees and are unequipped to handle the necessary changes, he said.

Horizon Utilities' vice-president of business development, Neil Freeman, said one way to better integrate electric cars would be to merge some of the utilities.

"It would be easier to implement those innovations and it would be of lower cost," he said. "There would be less administrative cost for larger utilities than 70 different implementations."

Provincial boards proposed some forms of merger in 1996 and again in 2012, but officials never acted on those recommendations. Some firms, however, did merge of their own volition after 1996, dropping the number of utilities — 393 at its peak in 1932 — to close to current levels.

Ministry of Energy spokeswoman Andrea Arbuthnot said the province will not force mergers, but expects firms themselves to form "innovative partnerships."

She said the government has pumped $50 million into research on smart grids — systems that provide feedback so utilities can identify high-demand areas — which should help ensure electric car owners get the power they need without overwhelming the grid.

About $14 million of the funds have been doled out so far but Arbuthnot said the province will announce where the rest will go in the "near future."

Meanwhile, some are taking steps to ensure the existing electric cars are integrating well into the grid in certain areas.

Plug'n Drive is providing lists of those who buy home chargers to 14 major utilities in the province to monitor usage, said outreach manager Ron Groves.

"The idea there is that if they see a cluster happening — of five, six, 10 electric vehicles in a neighbourhood — they can make a decision as to whether the infrastructure there can handle the load."

The Canadian Press


Read more Business News

22970


Recent Trending




Today's Market
S&P TSX14613.32+154.63
S&P CDNX769.59-2.06
DJIA17390.52195.10
Nasdaq4630.742+64.604
S&P 5002018.05+23.40
CDN Dollar0.88750.00
Gold1166.30-32.2999
Oil80.55-0.35
Lumber325.70+2.10
Natural Gas3.715+0.066

 
Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.125+0.015
Knighthawk0.01-0.005
QHR Technologies Inc1.18+0.03
Cantex0.045-0.015
Anavex Life Sciences0.185+0.0139
Metalex Ventures0.03-0.005
Russel Metals32.85+0.63
Copper Mountain Mining2.09+0.12
Colorado Resources0.125-0.015
ReliaBrand Inc0.015+0.003
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.05+0.025
Mission Ready Services0.39+0.015

 





FEATURED Property
2113941205-2130 Vasile Road
2 bedrooms 2 baths
$222,200
more details
image2image2image2
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading


Empty nesting: financial issues

Now that the children have ‘left the nest’, it is a good time to step back and take stock of your financial situation. Being on your own will probably cut household costs to some extent, b...


Keep your haunted home safe

Eerie sounds, spooky lights and Jack-o’-lanterns aglow—extra efforts at Halloween will keep visitors coming back for both tricks and treats. However, to keep the fun going, it’s imp...


What I learned in China

Photo: ContributedI will never be an expert on China. It is just too big, too complex and too old with layers of history and meaning that would take several lifetimes to unravel. As I said to my hosts...

_








Member of BC Press Council


22771