Enwin says Windsor boasts ample capacity for electric vehicle expansion

Dave Waddell/The Windsor Star

Electric vehicle users should soon begin seeing more charging stations sprouting up locally and across the province.

The Ontario government has mandated more uniformity among those providing them, and an Enwin spokesperson said it should lead to a boosting of their numbers.

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“From the province’s perspective, they want to encourage the uptake of (electric vehicles),” said Jim Brown, Enwin’s hydro chief operating officer.

“We have to have a lot of infrastructure go into supporting that, including the battery plant.”

Under the new Ontario mandate, the province’s 58 utilities will begin following the same process May 27. The new procedures include standardized forms, timelines and information requirements.

Brown said following a uniform process for installing electric vehicle (EV) chargers will simplify the paperwork and speed up the installation of new charging stations.

“In these regulations it lays out the timeline basically for the interaction with a proponent wanting to install EV chargers,” he said.

“The proponent first indicates they want to have a discussion about what type of charger and where. We have 15 days to respond. It outlines how the interaction should go.”

Once Enwin provides the information, the customer then dictates the pace based on their needs for the type of charger, power required, equipment needed and geographical location.

Brown said this is the first time the province has established a formal timeline and outline to the process.

“We’re an automotive town and we’re going to see a lot of movement towards EVs and we want to make sure to the support that. One way the province can do this is streamlining the process to get connections done.”

Enwin is responsible for overseeing charger installations within the City of Windsor.

Brown said there’s no funding involved with the new mandate and it will be a continuation of the responsibilities Enwin already has with charger installation.

The more crucial role for Enwin, he said, is ensuring the supply of power to the locations where companies wish to install them. The bulk of the new charging system is being built by private firms.

“Our point of interaction will be facilitating the installation of enough delivery (of power),” Brown said.

While Level 2 chargers range from seven to 19 kilowatthours (kWh) the move is towards more Level 3 chargers which draw upward of 20 kWh to as high as Tesla’s fast chargers that charge at 300 kWh.

“Level 3 chargers are becoming more the norm,” Brown said.

“If you have a number of Tesla chargers being used at once you are at a very large load. Some of those loads can be larger than a tall apartment building.”

Brown said there will be steady additions to the charging network locally. Just how many new stations will be added will be determined by how quickly people buy electric vehicles.

The Ontario government is forecasting a million EVs will be on provincial roads by 2030.

Windsor’s industrial past and its large power demands are now proving a benefit for that automotive future, Brown said.

“We’re fairly well-positioned to handle increased demand,” he said. “Our system established its peaked load in 2006. There’s latent delivery capacity.”

Brown said Windsor’s peak power use was 657 megawatts in 2006. Last year, electrical use in the city averaged between 375 and 425 megawatts, with a high of 446 megawatts in September.

“We anticipate a lot of new loads, but it hasn’t shown up yet,” Brown said.

The new NextStar battery plant in Windsor, he said, won’t on the city’s distribution system and neither are the Windsor Airport lands where a significant number of new companies in the battery supply chain are expected to locate.

Both are part of Ontario Hydro’s system, something that pre-dates Windsor’s annexation of an area formerly part of the county.