Ontario’s EV Support Program Is On The Money

This post was jointly written by Cara Clairman, President and CEO, Plug’n Drive, with Keith Brooks, Programs Director at Environmental Defence, a Canadian environmental organization working towards a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.

plugging-inOntario’s five-year Climate Change Action Plan, released last year, contains over 80 actions that the province will pursue as it fights climate change. Among the actions listed is a rebate program offering incentives of up to $14,000 towards the purchase of an electric car. Putting dollars into electric cars makes a lot of sense.

Transportation is the largest source of carbon pollution in Ontario, and personal vehicles are the largest contributor to those emissions. The surest way to reduce emissions from personal transportation is to electrify the vehicle fleet – which will bring big climate benefits in Ontario because the province’s electricity sector is almost completely decarbonized, thanks to the coal phase-out.

And one of the most effective ways to get people into electric cars is by offering incentives.

Forecasts for Electric Vehicle (EV) sales are being adjusted up dramatically as automakers work feverishly to roll out affordable electric cars with longer ranges, intended to compete with the Chevy Bolt – the car of the year – and Tesla’s much anticipated Model 3. But, many of these cars are still a few years away, as is some of the infrastructure needed to support a mass move from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles.

But there are still very good reasons to propel EV sales forward now. You have to begin somewhere to build momentum, which is what’s happening in Norway. Today, less than 5% of cars in Norway are electric, but the country’s transport minister said it is realistic for Norway to end the sales of fossil fuel powered cars by 2025. According to the Economist Magazine, fiscal incentives, not an outright ban, will bring this about. Knowing that, Ontarians should be happy to learn that this province offers the most generous incentives of any jurisdiction in North America.


There are other reasons for Ontario to support electric cars. For one, unlike oil and gas, low carbon electricity is made here in Ontario and spending on electricity comes back to Ontario in the form of local infrastructure and local jobs. Plus, Ontario has a surplus of electricity at night right now, which we sometimes export at a loss. It would make more sense to use that low-carbon power here – to benefit the environment and our own economy, which is why Ontario’s Climate Action Plan also plans to offer free overnight charging for electric cars.

The move to electric vehicles will also bring health benefits, just as the coal phase-out did. A recent report from the American Lung Association of California found that cars are responsible for $37 billion in health and climate costs each year. Moving to electric cars, the study found, would make a huge dent in that.

One of the criticisms of Ontario’s EV incentive program is that luxury vehicles that few can afford receive subsidies up to the $14,000 maximum. Given that the program’s aim is to increase the number of EVs on the road, it makes sense to offer incentives for cars of various price ranges. And when measured in percentage terms, the incentive program is progressive relative to car price. The province offers almost 50% for the least expensive EV, almost 40% for fairly affordable ones like the Nissan Leaf, and about 15% or less for luxury vehicles. And there are some very high priced cars that get no incentive.


It’s also worth noting that Ontario’s subsidies are now being paid for from revenue from the cap-and-trade program – not from taxes – which also makes a lot of sense. Carbon pricing alone isn’t enough to fight climate change. And while there are those who argue that carbon pricing should be revenue neutral, the reality is that the most effective way to reduce emissions is to recycle the revenue back into reducing GHGs.

Subsides for electric cars won’t be needed forever. Electric cars prices are coming down, and EVs will win the future, which is why forecasts for EV sales are being boosted. Bloomberg estimates that EVs will cost the same as fossil-fueled cars by 2022. But subsidies are needed for now.

And if you want to dispute subsidies, we suggest taking issue with the subsidies given out to oil and gas companies, which are much larger than those for electric cars, and which folks at Bloomberg have called “the world’s dumbest policy.” Subsides to oil and gas work against carbon pricing. EV subsidies, on the other hand, will act as a complement to carbon pricing and, as such, they belong in Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan.


OEB Staff Bulletin on EV Charging

A guest Blog from Travis Allan, DeMarco Allan LLP

DSC_2386-270-low resOn July 7, 2016 the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) released a bulletin setting out OEB Staff’s view that ownership or operation of an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging station and the selling of EV charging services from such facilities do not constitute distribution or retailing of electricity. Staff also believes that electricity distributors are not precluded from owning and operating EV charging stations if the equipment provides for the management of load in keeping with Ontario’s goals for electricity conservation.

 Staff bulletins of this nature do not bind the OEB in future decisions, but they are important sources of information and guidance for electricity industry participants.

 If the OEB agrees with staff’s view, EV charging station owners and operators will not require distributor licenses to receive payment for EV charging services and regulated Ontario electricity distributors will be able to own and operate EV charging stations directly, rather than through an affiliate, subject to restrictions. These restrictions may support the uptake of “smart” charging, which allows distributors to control EV charging times and speeds.

 OEB staff is of the opinion that an EV charging station[1] is not an electricity distribution system because EV charging stations do not provide distribution capability for loads other than EVs. As a result, OEB staff believes a person who owns an EV charging station is not required to obtain a distributor license from the OEB.

 In a related conclusion, OEB staff believes the act of selling or offering to sell EV charging services does not constitute “retailing” and, therefore, does not require an OEB retailer license. OEB staff notes that persons selling or offering to sell EV charging services are providing a complete “vehicle refueling” service as compared to just commodity electricity and, unlike a standard electricity supply service, EV charging services can only be used to recharge an EV.

 OEB staff holds the view that licensed electricity distributors are not precluded from owning and operating EV charging stations so long as the equipment provides for the management of load in keeping with the Government’s goals for electricity conservation. Typically, distributors are restricted from carrying on any business other than distributing electricity and, as explained above, OEB staff does not believe that owning and operating EV charging stations constitutes a distribution system or retailing electricity. OEB staff believes, however, that exceptions to this rule under Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 s.71(2) relating to the promotion of electricity conservation and the efficient use of electricity as well as load management apply.[2] Specifically, EV charging can help optimize the use of assets by making more demand response tools available to distributors and facilitating off-peak charging.  Having distributors involved in owing and operating EV charging stations, staff believes, may help facilitate load management and the efficient use of electricity.

 OEB staff’s qualification that the equipment should provide for the “management of load” is likely significant. While some “smart” EV charging equipment is able to help distributors manage when and how quickly users charge, not all EV charging equipment contains these features. Information about Canada’s first residential smart charging pilot conducted by CrossChasm in partnership with Toronto Hydro can be found here.

 For more information on electric vehicle policy, contact Travis Allan.

Tesla Model 3 – Unveiling!


On March 31, 2016, Tesla Motors unveiled the Model 3, the third step in a not-so-secret “Master Plan”, to which Elon Musk has referred to on many occasions.  The first step was the Roadster, a low volume, high-priced sports car.  The second step was the higher volume, lower-priced Model S and Model X. But the goal of the company has always been to make a difference with a high volume and affordable electric car — the Model 3.

What Makes This Different?

Who would stay up late at night to watch a live internet broadcast of the unveiling of a new car?  Moreover, who would plunk down a deposit to reserve a vehicle before it has even launched? Even the casual observer noticed that something different was happening with the Model 3.

First, the reveal didn’t occur during an auto show, but at an exclusive, invitation only, Tesla event.  Second, was social media. Tesla Motors has a Facebook following of almost 1.4 million people and a Twitter following of about one million @TeslaMotors and over 3.6 million @ElonMusk.  This provided an excellent base from which to publicize the Model 3 reveal. To add to the anticipation, the company took a page from the Apple play-book, allowing in-person pre-orders of the vehicle in stores before reservations could be made on-line, which meant line-ups.


However, the real difference isn’t that Tesla makes cars and not iPhones, nor that it makes electric cars. and not gas cars. The real difference is that in just a few days, over a quarter million people have voted with their deposits to support what Tesla represents. It’s a statement of belief that Tesla is doing the right thing, which, if traced back to Tesla’s mission, is: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

This mission resonates with people around the world.  Tesla’s focus on producing some of the world’s best vehicles has proven that electric transportation can be practical, efficient and appealing.  The commitment to build two global charging networks to support their vehicles, Tesla Supercharger and Tesla Destination, is nothing short of brilliant. Tesla is also building an enormous battery factory in Nevada, which will supply the massive quantity of batteries needed to build its target of 500,000 electric vehicles per year.

All of these things make Tesla Motors a different kind of auto-maker. What some critics will raise as a shortcoming — offering only a small line-up of zero-emission electric vehicles — could actually be the company’s biggest advantage.  There is a singular focus and steadfast commitment to the product, technology and ultimate mission of the company that no other auto-maker embraces.

What makes the Model 3 so special?

Now that the vehicle has been revealed, we know more about appearance, performance and range. But there are still more details to come. So reservation holders and those still on the fence, can anticipate “Part-2” of the Model 3 reveal sometime before the target production launch at the end of 2017.  For now, this is what we know:

  • Have a total range at least 344 km
  • Accelerate 0-100 km/h in 6 seconds
  • Offer seating for 5 adults
  • Provide superior cargo handling with front and rear trunks
  • Include Supercharging capability
  • Include Autopilot hardware and safety features
  • Have a starting price of $35,000 USD (Canadian Price hasn’t been disclosed)

As for the design, the vehicle appears to be as beautifully sculpted as the Model S.  While watching one of the live streams of the unveil event, I was initially unsure about the lines from certain angles.  But after viewing several more videos and numerous photos from the event, the more I saw, the more I liked.  Why was I among the hordes of streamers bogging down the internet that night? Put simply, I believe that Tesla is changing the world.  I wanted to be a part of it.  And if I could, I wanted to help.


Until the vehicle has been finalized, we won’t know which features will make it into production:

  • Will it still have an all glass panoramic roof for superior headroom?
  • Will it retain the controversial floating 15″ centre-mounted user interface?
  • Will it achieve the promised 5-star safety rating in all categories?

Of course, we will all have to decide for ourselves about appearance.  But at this stage, it certainly seems that Tesla has designed another home-run. I didn’t wait to place my deposit.  Did you?

Inline image 1

Living with the LEAF: Charging Efficiency

A Guest Blog by Plug’n Drive Volunteer Glennengineer

Nissan LEAF chargingI charge the LEAF in my garage using the standard 120 volt cord set (Level 1) that comes with every electric car.  The actual charger which converts Alternating Current (AC) from the grid into Direct Current (DC) for the car’s battery is built-in to the car.

Through my observations, the LEAF charges at about 1.3 KW using 120 volts. As observed in the data below there is a significant difference between the amount of energy used (measured by the LEAF) and the amount of energy supplied TO the charger (measured by my KWH meter) In fact the efficiency ranges between 70% – 80%.

The data  below shows a loss of 3KW over 10 hours or 300 watts/hour.

The significance of this is that charging times will be always be longer than expected if based on the KWH driven.  Next time we will examine the Km/KWH or driving efficiency.

LEAF around town (Aurora) 65 6.4 10.2 13.2
LEAF to Keswick 86 7.1 12.1 15.3
LEAF to Newmarket 25 6.5 3.8 5.5

Canada’s Charging Stations – Vancouver Edition

CPCanada Place
Canada Place opened in 1986 as Canada’s Pavilion for Expo ’86 and continues to welcome locals and people from around the world for inspirational Canadian experiences. It is also steps away from the Vancouver Convention Centre, which hosts a variety of events from the Grey Cup Festival, Family Fair, and The Wellness Show

999 Canada Place
Two level 2 stations
Free to charge, no card required. Parking fees apply.



Vancouver Aquarium

A not-for-profit marine science centre that it dedicated to effecting the conservation of aquatic life through display, communication, public programming and education, research and direct action. Vancouver Aquarium does not capture from the wild and provides a home for rescued animals.

845 Avison Way
Two Level 2 stations
Free to charge, credit card required. Parking fees apply.


Grouse Mountain
Vancouver’s premier attraction with a variety of cultural, educational, and outdoor adventures. Ski, ride, dine, and shop atop the mountain with its breathtaking view.

Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Two Level 2 stations
Free to charge, credit card or Chargepoint card required. Parking fees apply.

Canada’s Charging Stations – Toronto Edition


Brookfield PlaceBrookfield Place

Brookfield Place is a landmark deeply rooted in the commercial, cultural and social fabric of Toronto. Home to some of the world’s most prestigious financial and legal firms and the corporate headquarters of many Canadian corporations, the 2.6 million square foot complex fosters business and commerce of global significance.

181 Bay Street
Seven Level 2 Stations
Free to charge, no card required. Parking fees apply.

Direct Energy CentreThe Direct Energy Centre

The Direct Energy Centre is Canada’s largest facility for conventions, exhibitions and events. The Direct Energy Centre is known for its dedication to green initiatives and sustainability. Its Keeping It Green program allows events and organizers demonstrate social and environmental responsibility to attendees that support local renewable energy production.

100 Princes’ Boulevard
One Level 2 Stations
Free to charge, no card required. Parking fees apply.


Yorkdale MallYorkdale Mall

Yorkdale Mall is Canada’s premier shopping centre, located in the heart of the Greater Toronto Area. Its exclusive list of retailers – totalling  more than 240 – is highlighted by many first-in-Canada and flagship stores. Yorkdale Mall is also home to Ontario’s first Tesla store front.

3401 Dufferin Street
Four Level 2 Stations

To find these, and other public chargers in Canada, visit our map at: caa.ca/evstations.

Living with the LEAF

Glenengineer sitting in a Mitsubishi i-MiEV

Written by Plug’n Drive Volunteer Glennengineer (October 3, 2014)

As a volunteer with Plug and Drive, I have driven most of the popular battery electric cars over the past year for short periods of time and am always impressed with the quiet, clean and exhilarating drive. The technology of electric motors and batteries is an efficient and perfect match for propelling the vehicles of today.

Recently I lived for over a week at a time with a Nissan LEAF (Pinterest). Below is some of the energy data I recorded during my time with the LEAF. What surprised me is the TOTAL Km was approximately 150 Km, which more than matches the rated range of the LEAF.  It should also be noted that I was driving aggressive some of the time  and typically had a passenger so the number is realistic. More next time on charging efficiency and my experience with the i-MEV.

VEHICLE/TRIP Drove Km Remaining Km TOTAL Km Km/KWH KWH Used
LEAF around town (Aurora) 65 78 143 6.4 10.2
LEAF to Keswick 86 73 159 7.1 12.1
LEAF to Newmarket 25 122 147 6.5 3.8