OPG details fleet charging expansion plans

Electric Autonomy

Ontario’s largest energy provider is turning its attention to supporting personal and public fleet electrification

Ontario Power Generation is widely known as the electricity supplier to at least half the province. But the corporation’s budding strategy to establish itself as a major charging infrastructure provider for electric vehicles — first for consumers, and now, for transit and commercial fleets — is coming into view.

OPG sent the first strong signal earlier this year, with the official launch of the Ivy Charging Network — a joint venture between OPG and Hydro One. Today that network counts 17 locations around the province, with 73 locations promised by the end of 2021.

Since then, on the fleet side, it has announced that it is supporting the Toronto Transit Commission’s eBus charging infrastructure (the city now has 60 battery electric buses, the largest such fleet in North America) and the Amherst/Wolfe Island ferry charging infrastructure at the east end of Lake Ontario.

Expanding fleet focus

Speaking this week at the Electric Mobility Canada 2020 conference, two OPG executives added further details on its expanding fleet electrification focus.

“Now is the time to make moves in the electrification arena,” said David Zekveld, senior manager of electrification development at OPG, in a short briefing today.

In an earlier session, Theresa Dekker, OPG’s vice president, corporate business development and strategy, said this includes working “with transit agencies like TTC and the opportunity that we see with transit and heavy duty fleets to electrify.”

“There’s a couple of reasons why we’re really well positioned to take part in that,” Dekker added. “The first is we’ve got the energy markets expertise, so we can understand how the assets will be able to best be leveraged to generate value. We also have significant buying power, so that that could be a benefit for the people that we work with.”

Natural evolution

According to Zekveld, these are natural moves for a Crown corporation that has been a leader worldwide in greening up its business — from closing coal-fired generation, to nuclear power station refurbishment and investing in renewable generation.

“At OPG we have a long history of electrification starting from 100 years ago,” he said.

In essence, the electricity generator is capitalizing on the new opportunities electrification is creating — everything from cultivating more intimate and interconnected relationships with its customers to being able to leverage massive amounts of energy usage data to refine its grid and service offerings.

The goal is to support as broad a swath of charging infrastructure as possible; from the individual driver in need of a boost during their road trip to public transit bodies wanting to transition their fleets. The edge OPG brings is threefold.

“”We have a great understanding of the electricity market and the revenue opportunities that are available in it,” said Zekveld, echoing Dekker’s earlier comment. “So we can help reduce the cost of electricity to potential heavy-duty fleet customers.”

Zekveld also highlighted the company’s “volume discount for procurement” and its expertise in project management and infrastructure operation.

He ended his presentation with an invitation to fleet operators, municipalities and the federal government to reach out to discuss new opportunities.

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