Toronto pilot aims to lower EV charging costs, optimize grid

The Optiwatt program will save participants hundreds of dollars a year by shifting their charging to cheaper, off-peak times

By participating in the study, an EV owner allows Optiwatt and local electric utility providers to manage their charging. Shutterstock photo by buffaloboy.

This article was published by The Energy Mix on May 2, 2024.

By The Energy Mix staff

Plug-in-hybrid and electric vehicle drivers in and around Toronto can save up to 70 per cent on car charging— equalling several hundred dollars a year—by enrolling in a new pilot that shifts their charging to cheaper, off-peak times while supporting a more reliable grid.

Launched in April by San Francisco’s Optiwatt, a telematics-based managed charging platform, and The Atmospheric Fund (TAF), the pilot will run till the end of the year, serving drivers across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA), writes Optiwatt. While saving drivers money on charging, the project will also help electric utilities manage loads and optimize the grid, giving them information on where, when, and how many EVs are charging at any given time.

“As EV adoption continues to increase across the world, so does grid demand,” said Optiwatt CEO and founder Casey Donahue. “In order to sustain the grid’s ability to support the influx of EVs, it’s important to be sure of the load it can handle as it stands.”

Interested drivers can download the free Optiwatt app, or visit optiwatt.com/gtha and follow instructions to schedule their charging, says TAF. EV owners with plans like time of use (TOU) or ultra-low overnight (ULO) charging can save up to 70% on their EV charging costs.

By participating in the study, an EV owner allows Optiwatt and local electric utility providers to manage their charging. “If you are a participant, this includes participating in periodic scheduled charging events, with each event lasting about four hours,” Optiwatt says. Drivers can opt out if participating would cause an inconvenience.

Technologies that manage electricity demand have “tremendous potential” to support rapid electrification and clean power production in the GTHA, said TAF clean energy director Aakash Harpalani. “We look forward to working with Optiwatt to demonstrate how innovative programs like this can help balance the grid and meet the rising demand for EVs.”

The pilot supports BMW, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Range Rover, Tesla, Toyota, and Volkswagen models.

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