EV Chargers and Toronto Electric Grid Stress



CBC News recently reported about the growing concern that a huge influx of electric vehicles will cause stress on Toronto’s electrical grid. We’ve been talking about this exact idea on The Electric Blog and even interviewed Toronto Hydro about their plans to adapt to EVs in the city.

One particular comment in this CBC article gave me an idea from an electrician in Toronto’s point of view. Tom Odell was quoted as saying, “We need an effective way to know where all of these electric vehicles are. We just want to know where these are landing so we can plan.”

Potential Solution: Because the Electrical Safety Authority requires that each EV charger receive an inspection, they know exactly which areas of the city posses these residential or commercial EV chargers. Perhaps they could simply ask the ESA to report each installation to Toronto Hydro. As Odell emphasized in our interview with him, the more information they can gather, the better.

Here’s a longer excerpt from the CBC News article “Electric vehicles may put ‘disruptive load’ on grid”.

“Utilities such as Toronto Hydro are scrambling to ensure the aging grid can cope with the extra load from a growing fleet of electric vehicles.

Few public charging stations are available in cities like Toronto, so most electric vehicle owners such as Mel Ydreos charge their vehicles at home — something that Ydreos considers to be very convenient and a ‘real big plus’ of owning a car like his Nissan Leaf.

‘It’s worked beautifully that I can come in at night at home, simply plug it in and by the morning when I get up, it’s all charged up and I’m ready to go,’ he said.
The problem is that many of Toronto’s older residential neighbourhoods, such as Bloor West Village and the Beaches, had their distribution put in decades ago — before big-screen TVs and air conditioners became typical household appliances. At that time, homes had relatively low electrical loads and neighbourhood transformers were designed accordingly, said Tom Odell, manager of capital projects and electric vehicles for Toronto Hydro.
‘When an EV moves into that space, it’s really a disruptive load,’ he said.
Charging EV uses 3 to 5 times power of typical home

That’s because an electric vehicle can represent three to five times the power requirement of a typical inner city home while it’s charging, Odell said.
Partly, that’s because owners typically charge their vehicles at night, when the typical home isn’t drawing much power. But it’s also because, unlike other appliances such as stoves and dryers that are typically on for just a short time, electric vehicles may be charging for up to eight hours.
‘That has an impact on the distribution grid,’ Odell added.
That means existing transformers in some neighbourhoods may need to be replaced earlier than anticipated or upgraded to a larger transformer.
Odell noted that the utility is willing to do what it takes to accommodate more electric vehicles. ‘We’re very supportive of the electric vehicle program.’
The problem is that Toronto Hydro has no way of knowing which neighbourhoods could be affected.
‘We need an effective way to know where all of these electric vehicles are,” he said. “We just want to know where these are landing so we can plan.’”

Read the entire CBC News article.
If you’re interested in this article, you might enjoyInterview with Toronto Hydro: Grid gets ready for EVs”.