Date: June 14, 2023
There are now about 3,000 electric and hybrid vehicles in Newfoundland and Labrador, but Newfoundland Power and a group that advocates for electric vehicle adoption say a dramatic shift is coming.
“It’s going to be an overnight change that you will suddenly see. ‘Wow, everywhere we look there are suddenly electric vehicles,'” said Jon Seary, a co-founder of Drive Electric N.L.
Newfoundland Power agrees. It says forecasts show there will be between 100,000 to 200,000 electric vehicles operating in this province by 2040.
To help get ready for that, the power company has applied to the Public Utilities Board to run an electric vehicle load management pilot project.
In its application to the PUB, Newfoundland Power says the coming move to electric vehicles “is expected to have a significant impact on peak demand, resulting in a need for additional system capacity and higher system costs which would be borne by the people who use electricity.”
But the company says its proposed pilot project will help it find ways to convince customers to charge vehicles at times when demand on the system is lower.
Newfoundland Power says if it can do that, it can avoid charging customers more to increase system capacity.
“The pilot project will collect information on local electric vehicle owners’ charging behaviours, the effectiveness of various strategies in shifting load to off-peak periods, and the costs and challenges of implementing these strategies,” says its June 2 application to the PUB.
“This information is needed to inform the development of cost-effective customer programs to manage EV load in this jurisdiction prior to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles.”
Jon Seary, co-founder of Drive Electric N.L., shows off the electric pickup truck he recently drove across Canada. He says he spent $500 to charge the vehicle for the whole trip. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)
Seary says the proposed $1.5-million pilot project would be money well spent.
“Yes, there’s an initial investment right now but overall there’d be a massive cost saving by avoiding infrastructure upgrades that are not needed,” he said.
The company’s application comes with a letter of support from Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
The utility is asking that the money to pay for the pilot project is drawn from an electrification cost deferral account for Newfoundland Power that was approved by the PUB in 2022 to provide for the deferred recovery of costs related to electrification initiatives.
If its application is approved, Newfoundland Power says the pilot project will start later this year and wrap up with a final report in mid-2025.
So far, Newfoundland and Labrador is lagging behind other provinces that are adopting electric transportation.
In British Columbia, 20 percent of all vehicles are electric. In Newfoundland and Labrador, less than one per cent of the 383,000 vehicles in the province are electric or hybrid.