Fortis seeks EV owners in Alberta for charging study

An electric vehicle is charged in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

A pilot program run by an Alberta electricity distributor looking to prepare the grid for a future with more electric vehicles is seeing good demand.

Fortis Alberta launched the EV smart charging pilot in collaboration with charging app Optiwatt in mid-January.

It hopes to recruit 600 Fortis customers who also own EVs to monitor their charging habits. Fortis said it’s the first pilot project of its kind in rural Alberta, as approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission.

Read more: Enmax seeks Calgary EV owners to study charging habits

“The data gathered will help us understand vehicle charging requirements of our customers,” Curtis Eck, Fortis VP of engineering, said in a statement. “It will also demonstrate the opportunity for active managed charging to mitigate grid impacts, reduce carbon impacts and save customers money; costs that directly impact the transmission and distribution fees on Albertans’ utility bills.”

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The utility company is providing financial incentives for customers to sign up.

Fortis’ pilot program follows a similar one for Calgarians, operated by Enmax.

Fortis serves 240 communities around the province, including areas that surround cities like Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Red Deer.

According to recent data from the province, EV registrations in Alberta have jumped from 635 in 2018 to 5,680 in 2022, a nine-fold increase. Hybrid cars in the same time period nearly doubled.

The Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) anticipates there will be 1.5 million EVs on Alberta roads by 2035, the same year the federal government is targeting all new light-duty cars and passenger trucks sold in the country to be 100 per cent zero emission vehicles.

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AESO’s report also concluded the province’s energy market “is capable of delivering sufficient supply to meat demand during the net-zero transformation.”

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