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Electric Cars Could Impact Neighborhood Power Loads, Says Toronto Hydro

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.

Plug ‘n Drive, a non-profit group that promotes the use of electric vehicles

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“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.


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