Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ontario: Smart Meters and Electric Cars...

With Ontario set to usher in new electricity rates that vary depending on the time of day, I'm puzzled as to what effect those new electric vehicles will have on off-hours usage when electric cars become widely used. Both Chrysler and GM have electric cars set to sell in 2010, as well as some of the import makers like Toyota and Honda. And word has it Magna owner Frank Stronach is seeking federal funds to begin building electric vehicles here.

But here is where I can foresee a major problem. The sole purpose of the smart meters is to get consumers to use electricity during non-peak hours. This isn't as much to do with being green as it is about governments letting our power grid deteriorate over the years, and being unable to supply enough power during peak periods, particularly in the summer months when everyone has the a/c running in the house.

The problem is the lowest price for KwH will be 11:00PM to 7:00Am. Consumers will be running washer/dryers, dishwashers, etc., during this time to take advantage of the cheaper rate. This will also be the time everyone with an electric car will be plugging it in and charging overnight. The vast charging needs of these vehicles will put a huge load on the system. These vehicles require a 6-8 hour charge to be fully powered.
So then what? Will the Ontario government hike the lowest rate (likely), increase the capacity of the grid (unlikely), or will 1000's of Ontarian's wake up late for work with the alarm clock flashing due to a brownout from those electric cars overloading the system (ding, ding, ding, we have a winner).


Ted said...

I have a pretty good expectation to think you have nothing to worry about Paul. The capacity on the grid does not drop overnight so unless we are using up more capacity at night than during the day, there will always be enough electricity.

I don't even think it will affect the price. There will have to be a huge surge of vehicles charging up overnight across the entire province before you start to see discernible increases. That day, let me tell you, is unfortunately very far away.

BC Voice of Reason said...

Come on now Paul you are overlooking so many obvious solutions.

The European economy will get a huge boost with Ontario putting in French reactors. Despite all the funding it seems that Canadian Science has failed on this front. I would like the people crying about research underfunding to explain how after 40+ years and many billions of government funding Canadian Scientists are unable to develop or operate a nuclear reactor.

There will be a glut of Oil, so Oil powered generating electric plants will be added to the grid.

Clean coal technology will be readily available as the US has more coal emissions by a huge multiple over the tar sands and Obama will surely solve that problem.

Or if that does not fly there is all the LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) that is being shipped in to Canada from Russia/Norway. Rather than use that to power cars directly, first convert it to electricity. It will create more jobs.

Cool Blue said...

The rates are cheap overnight because most of the electricity in the grid at night is wasted as unused.

Plugging in vehicles overnight won't overburden the system.

FYI: Although currently it takes 4-8 hours to charge a vehicle there was recently a battery breakthrough which will allow us to charge a vehicle in under 30 minutes (an cell phones in a few seconds).

Dave Hodson said...

With Ontario set to usher in new electricity rates that vary depending on the time of day...

I didn't realize that everyone wasn't already on Smart meters. At my place in Newmarket, I've been on the 'new' system for 4 or 5 years?

I've also find that it hasn't changed the timing of my power consumption one bit. I still run the stove to cook when I'm hungry and it's time for dinner, not at 9PM when it's cheaper to do so. I still run the washing machine whenever I manage to some find time to do laundry. I still use my lights when it's dark, and the air conditioning when it's hot.

So how much did/will this system cost all of us to implement across the province?

paulsstuff said...

Dave, my house has a smart meter, but they haven't started with the varying rates of KwH charges. I'm in Ajax. Most of Ajax with older houses they are just starting to install the meters.

My house came with one, as it's only 3 years old. Does anybody know who pays for a smart meter installed on an older home? Homeowner, Town, Veridian?

Ted said...

I'll tell you next week. I'm about to order one.

paulsstuff said...

Let me know Ted. I might do a post on it. I vaguely remember being charged $400 on closing for hydro, but I can't remember exactly what it was(meter, hookup).

If only I never misplaced tose documents:0:

Skinny Dipper said...

I have a problem when the the people who operate the Smart Meters charge an administration fee--even before the first kilowatt is used.

Dave Hodson said...

I got curious, so I went back to my older electricity bills. It looks like my SMART meter was installed by the Newmarket Hydro in the summer of 2005. I remember them replacing the 'face' on the meter one day. It looks like they ran the meter for a year, tracking my consumption at different times of the day, to basically learn my consumption behaviour patterns. Then, in August 2006, I began receiving bills based on time of use rates.

paulsstuff said...

By the way, I never mentioned it, But I got to drive the Chrysler electric mini-van.

I have an '05 Caravan and there was no noticeable differance driving the electric. A little less power. What I did notice was how much quiter it was.

Noise can be pollution as well so these vehicles would help in that regard.

Ted said...

Apparently the electric cars are so quiet that they are dangerous and some US legislators are considering minimum sound standards for them.

The problem is at low speeds in neighbourhoods you can't hear them and pedestrians are getting hit as a result.

paulsstuff said...

Amazing isn't it Ted? For years they demand vehicles be quieter, and now they are too quiet.

Another thing I get a chuckle out of is CVT's in new cars. Because they are constant velocity there is no gear changing. After being bombarded with customers bringing in their new vehicles thinking there is a transmission problem, they have now programmed in simulated shift points to give the car the feel of changing gears.

I recently bought a Dodge Caliber with a CVT, and it did seem a little odd at first, but now I love it.