As Canadian transit agencies focus their efforts on fleet electrification, the need to develop strong relationships with utilities and power providers is more evident than ever.
Utilities in Canada play a crucial role in ensuring the success and sustainability of electrification initiatives. While there are a few utility-led transportation electrification strategies that exist in Canada, they’re mostly focused on light-duty electric vehicles, not public transit.
CUTRIC’s Electrical utility strategies for transportation electrification report dives into the various utility-led transportation electrification strategies in Canada.
The Role of Utilities in Transportation Electrification
Utilities, being the Canadian companies operating within the electrical industry, are the leaders of change.
Utilities that have a vested interest in transportation electrification can have a significant influence over the initiatives taking place within their province. For smaller cities and towns, transportation electrification can be more difficult to achieve without the support of larger utilities. Engaging with smaller agencies is equally as important as those serving a high volume ridership.
One key takeaway from CUTRIC’s report is that clear and consistent government policy is needed to provide for long-term investment in transit fleet electrification.
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Five Key Transportation Electrification Strategies in Canada
Canada’s overall strategy for transportation electrification has a long way to go, but some utilities are making their own efforts toward cleaner and greener transportation. Here are five key utility transportation electrification strategies:
BC Hydro’s Electrified Transportation Strategy
British Columbia has been a leading participant in the Canadian transportation electrification scene for years. In 2010, the provincial government passed its Clean Energy Act (CEA). This has been a driving force for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
BC Hydro’s electrified transportation strategy largely supports electric vehicle charging. The utility owns and operates one of the largest charging networks in the province.
In terms of fleet electrification, BC Hydro has recently partnered with BC Transit to help drive forward their Low Carbon Fleet Program. The utility will help define infrastructure requirements for the bus charging system.
Hydro Québec’s Initiatives for Fleet Electrification
Québec has one of the strongest utility strategies for transportation electrification in Canada.
This is mainly because of the clear alignment in goals that exists between Hydro Québec and the Government of Québec. In its Strategic Plan 2022-2026, Hydro Québec has made it a main objective to “contribute to reduction of GHG emissions in all our markets,” and one of its four strategies is to “electrify Québec and be a leader of the energy transition.”
Hydro Québec’s active participation in several electric vehicle (EV) and electric bus-related innovation projects has made it a leading utility in Canada for transportation electrification.
Within the province, several transit agencies such as Société de transport de Montréal (STM), Société de transport de Laval (STL), and Réseau express métropolitain (REM) have been able to implement transit electrification initiatives, in part due to the support of the provincial government and the utility.
Hydro Québec also operates the Centre of Excellence in Transportation Electrification which has helped school bus operators electrify their fleets and serves as an innovation hub dedicated to developing solid-state batteries for electric vehicles.
Ontario Power Generation’s Electric Bus Initiatives
Ontario’s electricity marketplace is more complex due to the many utilities operating across the province.
Despite the lack of a consistent external driving force for change, a number of utilities are working on projects supporting transportation electrification. Ontario Power Generation (OPG) has shown significant involvement in electric bus demonstration projects in the province.
Ontario Power Generation is one of the few utilities in Canada with an explicit electrification strategy. One of its goals is to leverage clean electricity to support the electrification of transportation. As such, it hopes to position itself as a leading utility in Ontario’s EV landscape.
Working with Hydro One, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, and other organizations, OPG has been able to help drive forward zero-emission transit projects across the province.
Toronto Hydro’s Electric Bus Conversion Project With OPG & TTC
Another utility in Ontario with a strong strategy for transportation electrification is Toronto Hydro. In collaboration with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and OPG, the “Green Bus Program” is a major ongoing transit project.
This strategy shows the importance of the relationship between transit agencies and utilities to ensure the success of transportation electrification. Toronto Hydro played a major role in assisting the TTC with technical needs for implementing the infrastructure needed to support electric buses. Going forward, Toronto Hydro continues to be responsible for providing electrical service to the TTC sites.
Toronto Hydro does not have a publicly defined electrification strategy. However, they continue to support transportation electrification beyond electric buses.
Manitoba Hydro’s Support for Public Transit Electrification
Although Manitoba Hydro has no explicit strategy for transportation electrification, the utility’s Climate Change Report did acknowledge that they are exploring new ways to electrify fleet vehicles.
Winnipeg Transit is beginning an exciting new electric fleet trial with Manitoba Hydro offering its support. In the city’s Transition to Zero-Emission Technical Evaluation Report, they presented an implementation strategy to transition their public transit fleet to zero-emissions by 2050.
Download CUTRIC’s Utility Strategies Report
CUTRIC released a comprehensive review and assessment of Canadian Electrical Utility Strategies for Transportation Electrification.
This report reveals a distinct shortage of utility-led transportation electrification strategies in Canada. Most major utilities in Canada are poorly prepared for transit electrification, which has made it more difficult for some cities and towns to drive forward their plans for switching from diesel to electric public transit.
Download our report on Electrical Utility Strategies for Transportation Electrification to read more North American case studies and the strategies mentioned above.
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