Wednesday, January 17, 2024

W-EVdnesday #7 - Power Grids

First of all, I have made a tab at the top of my blog which, if you click it, takes to to a page where you can find links to all of my W-EVdnesday posts.

Last week Alberta issued an Emergency Alert:

Screenshot courtesy of our daughter Brianne. 

My first thought was well, I guess I can see that; I mean earlier Brianne had sent us a couple of screenshots of unbelievably cold actual temperatures and insane windchills:

But my nano-second close second thought was wait, 'delay charging electric vehicles?' That is what they are purporting to be one of the significant drains on the grid? 'Berta gonna 'Berta as they say these days...

However, it’s not just Alberta; this narrative is all too common. 
“Our power grid won't be able to handle all these EVs coming online.”

So MacGyver and I had a little chat, and he told me about Tim Weiss, @TimWeissAB a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Alberta (yay, my alma mater) who he follows who had this to say about that very thing.

Something that is an aid to encouraging consumers to think about their power use and put off power-using activities that do not have to be done at that very moment is time-of-use charging for electricity, a system we have here in Ontario. What this means is that during the day the demand for electricity is the highest, on-peak, and so that is when the rate is also the highest. This is to deter people from using electricity for things like laundry and dishwashers during peak hours when they could put these activities off until later in the evening. We have a mid-peak rate which varies with the season, and our off-peak or lowest rate is 7 pm to 7 am, i.e. when the majority of our province is asleep. Weekends are also off-peak. This is when we charge our EV, do laundry, run the dishwasher. It is a great system, and it really amounts to big savings on our monthly bills because off-peak rates are less than half of what on-peak rates are.

With a level 2 charger, which is what a decent home charger is, you can charge your EV overnight. In actuality, it will charge it to 80% in a mere four hours depending on what percentage it is at when you plug it in. Even if you don't have off-peak rates, the strain on the power grid at nighttime is a lot less than during the day. For example, you lower your thermostat while you sleep, you're not running your dryer, and a lot of industries that use copious amounts of electricity are not running overnight.

Something that is super-cool that they are capitalizing on in some parts of Europe, is that they use vehicle to grid, V2G, technology. It's beyond me, but somehow power companies can use EVs to store electricity and then pull from that storage, (paying the EV owner) when the EV is plugged in, to support the grid. Virta, a European company that develops and provides smart EV charging services has this good explanation.

Sidenote: remember the site and app I mentioned in this post, PlugShare? Well, Virta has a similar app to find their charging stations in Europe. Check it out:

The PlugShare app is just above it😁 in the App Store. 

Another cool tech part of owning an EV is its connection to your phone. Think of it like controlling your home cameras, the smart Home app, your Roomba from your phone anywhere in the world with a wifi connection. For example, I can run my Roomba when I'm sitting in Cuba.😎Likewise, you don't have to go outside to unplug your EV; you can stop charging from your phone. With an ICE vehicle, you need to physically unplug it to stop using power. Moreover, a block heater is using power constantly while it's plugged in unless it's on a timer; an EV battery blanket isn't even necessary to start the EV. However, it is good in extremely cold areas to optimize range and efficiency but it doesn't need to be on all the time and you control it from your phone. We haven't had to use this feature as we park in an unheated garage, and we don't get bitter cold temperatures as does northern Ontario and the prairies.

Remember, our countries are currently, and have been continually, adding to our power grids. As population grows, the need for more power grows. Just yesterday, from BC Hydro, Premier Announces New Actions to Build Electricity System, Create Jobs.

We can do this!


  1. Another interesting post Sandra. My husband just left the house to pick up the EV he purchased yesterday. I am excited about it.

  2. Hi Sandra! Science doesn't lie. Now, Texas has a notoriously famous power grid that handle its current customers - someone went on vacation when his constituents were literally freezing, but I digress. Tim Weis is in a position to speak and to be consulted about power grid issues. That was very poor PR for Alberta to ask that question without some research first. Come on - aren't we taught as children to think before we speak? Even though the USA has had "alternate fact" issues, and we may be returning to them, we can still stick to that sage old advice from mom. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne