Ontario’s largest power generator continues to expand into vehicle electrification with the launch of PowerON Energy Solutions, a new subsidiary with a Canada-wide mandate to help fleets navigate charging infrastructure needs
If you are transitioning a fleet in Canada and looking for large-scale charging solutions, Ontario Power Generation is now offering a “turnkey” service to help fleets measure and meet their charging needs.
PowerON Energy Solutions, announced this month by the provincial power generator, is OPG’s latest expansion into the rapidly electrifying transportation landscape. OPG’s first national offering, it already boasts the Toronto Transit Commission as a flagship customer and joins its other interest in the market, Ivy Charging Network, which launched in 2019.
“It was an evolution over time,” says Theresa Dekker, vice-president of corporate business development and strategy at Ontario Power Generation, in an interview with Electric Autonomy Canada. “We started to get in this space with Ivy and Ivy is really focused on personal vehicle charging. But as we started to learn a little bit more about that and thought through, ‘how could we really have an impact on emissions?’ and looking at transportation, your next thing to look at is really fleets.”
“We had multiple conversations with with a variety of fleets, including the TTC, and that’s where it really started to become apparent that there’s a lot of work to be done on the infrastructure side. Given that we’re backed by Ontario Power Generation, we’ve got that expertise because we are there in the energy industry as it is. So PowerON was a natural fit and an evolution.”
PowerON’s goal in the charging solutions space is to provide a comprehensive A-Z service that tailors a turnkey solution for each fleet customer.
“Part of the offering at PowerON is really providing energy management services, which involves a combination of smart charging and leveraging the infrastructure to help balance out the load from the electric vehicles at times when the grid may or may need that electricity,” explains Dekker.
“The first step comes down to understanding how the fleet needs to operate and once we have a sense of the operational requirements it gives us the ability to think about what the right infrastructure would be and how to leverage that infrastructure appropriately so that we’re maximizing the use of it. Then there would be the opportunity for us to look at potential co-investments and look at what potential brands or subsidies may be available to help offset some of these costs.”
Currently PowerON has only publicly announced customer relationships with the Toronto Transit Commission and Toronto Hydro. The former is Canada’s largest transit fleet and the latter, one of Ontario’s largest utilities. Toronto Hydro is supporting the TTC in its fleet electrification plans and in its 2020 Environmental and Social Governance report has pledged in its own fleet transition that, “all purchased Toronto Hydro light-duty passenger vehicles will be hybrid or fully electric.”
“OPG is a leader in the EV charging infrastructure space with the deployment of the operation,” says Neal Kelly, director of media for information and issues management with OPG, in an interview with Electric Autonomy. “We can leverage our expertise and we can leverage economies of scale to provide the best possible value to other Ontario fleets as they decarbonize.”
OPG, for its part, has pledged to be a net zero company by 2040 and Dekker confirms that PowerON will be offering its services across Canada with no set fleet size cap, though, as an Ontario-based company, it anticipates heavier interest in that province.
Hitting the ground running
Dekker says PowerOn is in active discussions with parties interested in their services and the approach is to be as universally compatible as possible: PowerON is open to working with all charging operators and infrastructure providers; the goal is to find the best solution for each case.
Dekker says, based on her conversations with various fleets, there is “a lot of momentum” currently and that her top advice to companies considering a transition is to seek support and solutions and not put off to tomorrow, what you can do to day — if you are able.
“There are subsidies out there that that exists today that can be leveraged. So, I think there is an advantage to transitioning early,” says Dekker. “The sooner you get going, the sooner you learn more about it. We are looking forward to how fast this all accelerates.”