Exclusive: BC Hydro joins new North American MHDV charging advocacy supergroupNews
Mar 6, 2024
Brian Banks

Unveiled last month, PACT’s members include five of the seven largest truck OEMs in North America, plus other global infrastructure, power sector giants

BC Hydro is the first Canadian member of a heavyweight trucking, logistics and power coalition, established to advocate for development of large-scale commercial charging infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks.

Unveiled last month, PACT’s members include five of the seven largest truck OEMs in North America, plus other global infrastructure, power sector giants

A coalition of leading truck manufacturers, infrastructure developers, grid operators and logistics firms, created to help break down barriers to the development of large-scale commercial charging and refuelling infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty electric trucks, now has its first Canadian member: BC Hydro.

“It’s clear that infrastructure readiness is critical for electrification. Any opportunity to partner and collaborate with leading transportation organizations, especially as a utility, is fundamental to advancing medium-heavy duty ZEV technologies,” says Kymm Girgulis, sector lead transportation key accounts at BC Hydro, in a statement provided exclusively to Electric Autonomy.

The coalition, dubbed Powering America’s Commercial Transportation (PACT), was unveiled last month in Washington, D.C. That event featured the CEOs of Daimler Truck North America and Navistar and the president of Volvo Trucks North America — three companies whose five nameplates (Freightliner, Western Star, International, Volvo Trucks, Mack Trucks) represent 70 per cent of the medium- and heavy-duty truck market in North America.

At that meeting, the group also announced that Dawn Fenton, vice-president of public affairs for Volvo Group, would head up the coalition.

Education and advocacy

PACT isn’t a charging network, although at least one of its members, Daimler, is participating separately in a new U.S. truck charging network called Greenlane. Instead, PACT says its mission is education and advocacy; targeting bottlenecks in the development of utility infrastructure impeding network and charging infrastructure growth.

“PACT members, representing all ZEV stakeholders, work collaboratively to educate policymakers, regulators, and electrical utilities about the urgent need for increased investments and direct guidance on infrastructure for M/HD ZEVs,” reads a statement from a PACT fact sheet outlining its priorities.

Although most of its initial focus and material are U.S.-oriented, a PACT spokesperson confirms that “Canada is in PACT’s scope,” and that BC Hydro is participating confirms it.

“PACT is taking a proactive approach bringing a diversified group of subject matter experts in industry to inform, direct and advocate for the importance of infrastructure readiness which we are happy to be a part of,” says Girgulis, in explaining why BC Hydro has interest in participating.

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency also welcomes PACT’s launch. It has published multiple reports on battery electric trucks, while its Run on Less — Electric and Run on Less — Electric Depot demonstrations events, held in 2021 and 2023, respectively, have provided real-world showcases of zero-emission trucking’s potential.

“Electric trucks bring a lot of benefits but come with big challenges,” says Mike Roeth, NACFE’s executive director, in an email to Electric Autonomy. “PACT brings together key players who are committed to solving the challenges around charging EVs. Electric trucking will come faster with PACT.”

Details about the coalition’s next steps are still at a high level. In the U.S., it says it will focus most of its work at the state and local levels, particularly those jurisdictions that have embraced action and regulations on zero-emission trucking.

Primary barriers to MHDV charging

PACT notes that, to date, most investment in charging infrastructure projects have focused on light-duty passenger vehicles. Given that carbon emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks are substantial — in Canada, 35 per cent of transportations emissions come from trucks and buses, according to the Pembina Institute — government policies should do more to accelerate zero-emission trucking, the group says.

Also telling are the four “primary barriers” to scaling commercial ZEV operations listed on the PACT fact sheet:

  • Limited availability of dedicated infrastructure for M/HD ZEVs;
  • Limited understanding of unique M/HD ZEV infrastructure needs;
  • Complex, varying and lengthy approval processes for ZEV infrastructure projects;
  • Balancing commitments to ratepayers with capital investments in future.

PACT says it will focus its efforts in addressing these obstacles. The group also stresses that it isn’t advocating for one particular technology or platform, but supports “the development and deployment of charging infrastructure for all forms of M/HD ZEV technologies, including battery-electric and hydrogen-fuelled vehicles.”

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