City of Ottawa : Proposals for an Improved EV Charging Infrastructure

10 Responses

  1. Peter Manson says:

    Great topic!

    More charging stations would be good for “city range” EVs (120km or less), but I think that many EV drivers would have chosen an EV with a range that would cover most of their daily driving, so they wouldn’t have to rely on public charging stations every day. I know I wouldn’t be comfortable driving to work every day without enough in the battery to get back home, in case the charging station where I’m planning to charge is occupied or broken.

    Having said that, having lots of charging alternatives would help and the most useful places to put charging stations would be at a destination where the driver is likely to stay for a long time, which usually means people’s places of work. Downtown parking lots/garages and the Kanata March Road / Innovation Drive tech areas come to mind.

    Since these stations would mostly be on private property, it might be easiest for the city’s help to come in the form of cash incentives to employers or building owners rather than installing and maintaining the stations themselves.

    But as a Tesla driver, I have enough range that I have never needed to charge within the city and likely never will. EV-driving visitors to Ottawa from another city would likely either charge at the home of family or friends, or at a hotel, not at a public charging station near offices or shopping.

    There is another area that the city could focus on to encourage EV use, and that is making it easier to install a home charging station. I needed to upgrade my service to 200A to accommodate my EV, and Hydro Ottawa (owned by the city) charged me an $1100 fee for this (on top of what I paid for the electrician and inspection). About half of the fee was to disconnect and reconnect the service while the electrician did the work (a total of about 20 minutes of work) and the other half was a fee for going from 100A to 200A – a fee so that I can buy more energy from them! I understand that as more homes move to higher capacities, they may need to upgrade their equipment, but in my case the cabling to my house and the transformer were already sized adequately, and besides, some of the money we already pay for electricity should be going to system expansion and improvement. This kind of disincentive should be removed.

    I have heard indirectly that some people living in condos or apartment buildings have met resistance when trying to get a charging station installed in their building. The city could help with this, either through incentives or bylaws requiring building owners to be “reasonably accommodating”.

    And lastly, the city could do more in the way of public education. There’s lots of good info out there, so this could be done at a pretty low cost, by pointing to sites like Sun Country Highway, PlugShare, Plug n Drive, etc. The city and Hydro Ottawa have done many “green” campaigns before, like recycling & green bins, the “peak saver” thermostat program, etc. Some sort of local program/incentive for new EV owners would be great.

    • Great post, Peter. I’m reading this in 2020 and wondering what, if any, words I would change! Six years later, there’s still little concrete info available from the City (I found this as one of the top returns to a Google search, and none from the City of Ottawa). I also drive a Tesla (M3 AWD) and charge it at home every night, so your guidance is still true. That said, I suggest municipalities should be participating or guiding development of EV infrastructure through regulations rather than infrastructure being developed 100% by the private sector.

  2. Khalid AlHomoud says:

    “I have heard indirectly that some people living in condos or apartment buildings have met resistance when trying to get a charging station installed in their building. The city could help with this, either through incentives or bylaws requiring building owners to be “reasonably accommodating”. – Peter Manson

    I agree with this. This however might require more EVs to be enforced.

    EV owners traveling from different cities to Ottawa might find charging stations at shopping centres useful since some of them don’t stay in the city for the night, and spending 2 hours charging at a mall could be sufficient for them to travel back; in addition to the fact that not many hotels in Ottawa have EV chargers. Currently, there isn’t a single shopping mall in the city of Ottawa with a charging station, at least nothing that I’m aware of, except for one old charger at Place d’Orleans, if you consider that in Ottawa.

    Ottawa residents on the other hand need some incentives on top of the the need of charging stations throughout the city. Although Hydro Ottawa and other hydro companies offer discounted rates during the off-peak hours, they still charge hefty amount of delivery fees once the usage exceeds ~1,500kWh per month. EV owners should be exempted from this rule since most of the usage is done during off-peak hours and every EV owner will exceed that threshold anyway.

  3. Peter Manson says:

    Agree with all that, Khalid. Couple of other thoughts:

    Charging stations at the OC Transpo Park and Ride locations would be good for people who commute from out of town. The challenge is keeping people who don’t really need them from using them to get free power. So maybe charge a nominal fee to use them.

    Also, on the theme of off-peak electricity rates, why not offer a “super-off-peak” rate targeted at EV drivers? They’d probably have to offer it to everyone to avoid “I want it too” arguments and difficulty defining eligibility. So maybe offer a lower rate (5 cents/kWh?) from 1am to 5am, with a minimum monthly usage during those hours before it kicks in (100 kWh/month?).

  4. Erik H. says:

    Level 2 chargers are nice to have and publicize to the masses. But, they really aren’t that practical. Remember, 99% of my charging is done in the privacy of my home, after midnight with excess Ontario electrons, with my Level 2 charger. So, Level 2 chargers are great at home. Level 2 chargers are really not that useful as public chargers along the highway for the average EV. Tesla’s excepted!

    So, if you are truly going to get EVs out of the cities and traveling intercity or transcontinental, then you need to be implementing a network of Level 3 Quick Chargers (DC QC) and leave the level 2 chargers in the driveways and garages of their owners. And, as an aside, get these Level 2 chargers into apartment and condo parking garages as a very high priority.

    So, what is essential are Level 3 chargers every 100 to 120 Km along our highway corridors.

    The only problem left is the business case. I just finished saying that 99% of my charging is going to take place in my garage. Let’s say that this Level 3 charging network really takes off and I can comfortably realize chargers along my route. Then perhaps my 99% would change to 95%. So, 5% of my charging could take place at these Level 3 chargers that could possibly charge $5 for a charge (See the Bling network in the US). Five percent of my driving could be 1000 Km or about 10 charges for a cash flow of $50 per year per average EV. With 10,000 EV’s, we could see an annual expenditure of some $500,000. Now divide this into the number of stations required across Canada, and you’ve got yourself an idea of why we need some serious governmental incentives to populate our highways with these Level 3 DC QC. Then, and only then, Driving Electrically for average EV’ers and not just the “rich and famous” who can afford the most perfect car on this planet (the Tesla, of course!) will take off like wild fire!

    As a starter, every OnRoute Rest Area should automatically have a DC QC included in the design. When these DC QC are installed and functioning reliably along every route in the province/country, stand back and watch EV’s take off!

  5. Brennan says:

    I totally agree with Erik. There really should be more DCFC. I would be driving a BEV and not a PHEV now if I could drive long distances in a BEV in a reasonable amount of time.

  6. Eric Leclair says:

    A proper charging infrastructure is essential for greater EV uptake. Why? Teslas are nice and have great range but even they need to charge. And for long distance inter-City driving, you need to charge somewhere. Furthermore, vehicules with 500, 600, heck, 1000km of range makes no sense for most cars on the road. Let me explain why:

    Most people drive less than 100kms/day. So why would you carry all that excess power capacity (and weight and wasted space) for those rare times you want to drive out of town? In the morning. when you leave for work with your lunch, do you bring a loaf of bread, a bushel of apples and 10 liters of water (if you do, you probably have lots of friends at work). Of course not, you bring what you need and if you happen to want an extra treat, you pick up a snack at work. Sometimes, you may even leave without a lunch and grab something to eat at work! The same could be said for EVs. When possible, you charge at work, while shopping, and the theater or ski hill. You top up where you can.

    Here are my thoughts for a charging infrastructure:

    Level 1 (conventional household-type 110v outlet): Workplace; hotel/motels; ski resorts; park&ride; your neighbour (lol); train station; airport …. hence, anywhere where you park for extended periods of time. The advantage is that they are cheap, available in most places and generally dont require rewiring (ie: upsizing the wire feed). This is not a tough sell (heck, we used to have them everywhere for car block heaters – most have been removed due to new car technology)

    Level 2 (220v specialized units): Also good for the above locations mentioned in above Level 1 section, however, I would rather see dozens of Level 1 outlets instead of a few Level 2 charging ports. Level 2 is good for cinemas, arenas, street parking, shopping malls, restaurants….hence, anywhere you would stay for over an hour but less than 5.

    Level 3 and up (DC charging. 440v…to superchargers): along highway corridors, rest areas being the obvious choices; short term parking such as coffee houses and other retail outlets; and gas stations, yes, gas stations.

    If I was an oil executive of one of the big retail gas providers such as Esso or Shell, I would start deploying Level 3 chargers at some of my gas stations, especially those along travel corridors. Why? Why not. You can’t stop the EV wave so why not join it. When gasoline becomes obsolete -and it will- you’ll be better positioned to capitalize and perhaps, remain relevant.

    What do we need to do to start seeing a better infrastructure? We need to start writing to those that can make a change. Local councillors, your member of provincial and federal government, to business owners (every time you’re in a store, ask if they have a charging station, a place to plug in. A good business will respond and start offering it. I often choose my shopping destination based on where I can plug in – surely I am not the only one.

    What is working in our favour: The electric infrastructure is there, it reaches into every dark corner (pun intended) of our lives, we just need to provide some access. What will happen with a better charging network = more EVs, smaller battery packs using less precious and semi-precious metals and resources, a more robust electrical grid with small electricity reservoirs spread out throughout the millions of electric car batteries…..and less gas stations!!

    Now stop reading and email your politicians.

    Charge on!

  7. Paul Camiré says:

    1 – To improve the infrastructure for the electrification of transport in Ottawa, what are the concrete actions the City of Ottawa, Hydro-Ottawa, businesses and other organizations have to implement ?

    Make it mandatory that every new city owned building or one being retrofitted must have half a dozen L2 charge points and half a dozen L1 charge points. The amount of charge points can vary on the size of the buildings, for example 100 Constellation should have 40+ charge points where as a small community center should have 12.

    Work towards making older buildings meet these criteria.

    Educate city staff, meet with the local ev community. Look at what other jurisdictions are doing.

    More and more businesses have a ”green team”, green buildings, green energy and green transportation go hand in hand, they need to know that. Charge points must be part of their check mark lists, along with more efficient lighting, ventilation and water use.

    Have high voltage available in the garage for new home constructions, in condo parking lots and so on.

    Public Private partnerships. There is always a way to make it happen!

    2 – Electric vehicles owners in Ottawa, Gatineau and other regions, what are your proposals ?

    See 1, 3 and 4

    3 – Which are the strategic places to install Level 2 and 3 charging stations ?

    L2 where we shop, play, go to be entertained and eat. Where it is possible and cost effective to do so.

    L3 not only between destinations and cities, but also within cities. Not everyone will come to Ottawa and stay parked for 6 hours on L2 before going back home. We need that quick turnaround time. Dealerships such as Nissan, GM and BMW may play a roll in installing these at their locations to spur adoption, but again, lets look at what other jurisdictions are doing.

    Tourist locations are a great location for them too.

    Wifi model, offer it and they will come eat, sleep, play at your location, there is a business case for it.

    4 – In what ways will the City of Ottawa benefit from the addition of numerous charging stations ?

    It will spur the adoption of electric vehicles, no doubt. Would people buy gas cars if gas stations were sparse, no. EV’s have the advantage here since (in most cases) they can charge at home, which is a foreign concept to people. Less air pollution is good for everyone, there is no doubt that the toxins gas cars put in the air is harmful to our environment and ourselves. We don’t even have to touch climate change here, toxins are bad, end of story, just that should be enough to get people to go electric. You can’t be a skeptic that toxins affect your body in adverse ways, makes you chronically sick and kills you slowly. This does not stop at fossil fuel exhaust, but it’s a big part of the problem.

    More ev’s also means more people become aware of the energy they use, or so one hopes. This can can lead to better citizens, stewards of the environment if you will. As ev owners ourselves, i’m sure we all see the world a little differently now and make decisions in our lives based on that.

    The lower cost of operation of an ev means more money stays here and is spent here. Instant local economic action plan.

    Local power production, public and private. As technology improves, people will continue to install solar panels and store the energy at home for their own use which will lead to local job creations and help people make more money.

    Less noise pollution, happier city.

    That’s all I have to say about that,

    Regional Manager
    Sun Country Highway

  8. Adam Frey says:

    I had been working to collect some intelligence about #3 through a survey of EV drivers to construct a wishlist of where chargers would be desired in the city.

    Top 10 Results:

    Separate from this is resources/education for those businesses/organizations that would host the chargers themselves. Admittedly it is hard to clarify the business case at present for having the chargers with the comparatively low amounts of EV drivers, but this will change. Having more chargers in the city allows people outside of town to purchase EV’s so that they can charge while shopping and being entertained.

  9. Greg West says:

    I think OC Transpo park and rides would be a great spot. That way people with range extending EVs such as a Volt or i3 can commute from farther out to work and not have to use gas to get home. Since the vehicles would be parked for at least 8hrs, in most cases, they wouldn’t need more than a 20 or 30A receptacle.

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