Oct 26, 2020
As electric vehicles (EVs) earn the spotlight as an impactful step towards environmental sustainability, what can municipalities, electric utilities and oil companies do to support a true EV movement in Canada? Jim Pegg, Director of Infrastructure Product and Service at Envari Energy Solutions, shares his expertise on the infrastructure (i.e. charging stations) and services (i.e. electrical supply) that will be necessary to encourage EV adoption while ensuring a smooth transition.
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Dan Seguin 00:43
Hey, everyone, welcome back. This is the ThinkEnergy podcast. According to the US Department of Energy, electric cars can be traced back to the early 1800s while horses and buggies were still the primary mode of transportation, inventors in Hungary, the Netherlands, and the US were creating some of the first small scale electric cars between 1828 and 1835. By the turn of the century, in early 1900s, electric vehicles accounted for a third of all vehicles on the road in the US. So what happened? Now, another century later, electricity is finally on track to become the fuel of the future that will move both people and goods sustainably and environmentally around the country. And nationwide, EV fast charging network was only introduced in December of 2019 by Petro Canada. It consisted of a network that boasts 51 fast chargers at their stations as far east as Halifax, Nova Scotia, and as far west as Victoria, British Columbia. EV drivers now have access to stations located all along the Trans-Canada highway, making a coast to coast track achievable. Other major players are getting into the game with Canadian tire committing to 300 charging stations spread over 90 locations across Canada. Wow. So no more range anxiety? This is great news because consumers rank not having enough accessible charging stations as a third more serious barrier to an EV purchase, behind price and long range travel. Despite this obstacle, EV sales have continued to rise. But it's clear that to support that growth, we need to roll out charging stations at municipal, provincial and federal levels is the key to bolster rates of EV adoption. More EV charging infrastructure in urban and rural areas? Will better infrastructure increased consumer confidence in electrical vehicles. From a local perspective, what are Canadian municipalities doing to advance their local infrastructure to successfully accommodate EV charging networks? Here's today's big question. Are electric utilities and oil company’s two industries in unique positions to help build a true EV movement in Canada? The former controls electricity distribution networks in the province and municipalities while the latter already operates strategically located fuel stations for internal combustion vehicles. Joining me today is a very special guest, Jim Pegg, Director of infrastructure products and services at Envari energy solutions, who is here to answer these big and small EV questions for us. Jim, can you tell us a bit about Envari and your role specifically, as it relates to electric vehicles and EV infrastructure and charging stations? Second, as an energy management company, can you expand on your strategic position to catalyze this shift to electric mobility?
Jim Pegg 04:25
Essentially, Envari is a diversified energy solutions company. We're a team of engineers’ project managers that problem solve and help businesses and governments implement innovative electrical, mechanical lighting-related projects. As a competitive affiliate of Hydro Ottawa, we're trusted experts in energy efficiency, sustainability, as well as asset management. Our clients’ needs take center stage for us, and we're committed we're very committed to our customer success. Our goal is to help them save energy, you know, reduce emissions and identify areas of poor performance as a good example. Before they have a chance to erode essentially, their bottom line, we're trying to help them avoid those situations. We deliver energy projects from start to finish. So we're concept to commissioning type organization. We provide expert advice, we leverage our buying power, complementing and supplementing our projects team. In terms of their ability to deliver outstanding results and performance results, I'd say we're recognized in the industry for always protecting our customers’ best interests, and adhering to the highest standards of quality and reliability. And obviously, very importantly, safety.
Dan Seguin 05:43
Thanks. Studies show that public charging will be even more important in the near future, particularly in the next decade. What strategies should utilities and municipalities be looking to adopt to ensure we're prepared?
Jim Pegg 06:01
Well, I mean, that's a great question. And I think we very much agree that public charging is becoming more and more common right across North America, we sit on various committees, and we see this discussion is really starting to catch fire. Example, you know, now there was more than 1000 public charging stations over in BC I think. And, you know, people are using them for various types of experiences, whether it's just popping out to the mall or range extending, because they want to head out to the cottage or go for a road trip, especially with COVID going on, people are getting a lot more in country traveling. And, and so it's certainly becoming more and more of a topic. I'd say with utilities, Dan, it's all about capacity, which typically isn't an issue for something like a level two charger, but certainly becomes a big part of the conversation for level three fast chargers, which can draw significantly more power, you know, typically a level three, fast charger, you know, you get into the 50 kilowatt range, but they're obviously getting bigger and bigger and faster and faster. also important to note that car technology out there is changing too, right? Different electric vehicles can accept that different charge at different rates. So you might plug in one vehicle to a charger, and it takes a certain amount of time to charge and another vehicle might take a different amount of time to charge. So for utilities, again, they're looking at standards, you know, looking at related to charger connections, details, like your metering requirements, and how they can work with different vendors and manufacturers to do things as simple as mounting the meter to an actual public charging station, versus having to have a separate, you know, installation post or something like that, those little details will actually go a long way with really helping to enable that technology to get out there and, and not run into those types of roadblocks. I say for the longer term impact of charging, it's going to become more of a key system planning piece. So working to understand that the penetration of these chargers, and that related infrastructure. The impacts of large fleets converting to electric vehicles is going to be a big, big discussion point as well, you know, municipalities, I think all across North America are looking at their fleets. And if converting to electric makes sense to them, as you know, a lot of places that have declared climate emergencies. And a big way to support the effort to reduce emissions, obviously, is converting to electric vehicles and to do so that infrastructure becomes a key part of that play. So I think those are big parts of the conversation for utilities, other technologies are starting to come into play like energy storage, energy storage acts a lot like a distributed energy resource. So over the last 10 or 15 years, utilities have been really making a big shift to having more distributed generation in their system versus the sort of large generation pumping in I've got generation all over the place. Well, batteries and chargers come into that situation not to and it's more deemed as an energy resource facility is what they would call it now because of battery can operate a lot like a like a generator. So utilities are having to look at all these different factors and take those into consideration with connection processes, and working with customers to try and make it as simple as possible for the customer. Because at the end of the day, there can be some very technical pieces to it, you know, you can always dive into the weeds of this stuff. But our goal is to make these chargers available to the public and to make these things accessible, so that so that we can get this infrastructure in place. So I think utilities have certainly started the conversation and are working to go a long way with trying to help streamline those processes. Municipalities are a big part of that as well. They're doing a great job. We've spoken with many families that are taking a real good hard look at their fleets as well as public charging offerings. And I think a big part of what municipalities are doing is trying to look at standards for, you know, understanding optimal locations for, for EV chargers for the public what makes sense, as well as working with their local utility that was a huge part of the discussion, having those early conversations, because you want to avoid things that, you know, one group may know is a roadblock. And they might say one site is better than another. And you can really avoid going too far down a trail that has a dead end to it, if you have that conversation early. And I think I know here in Ottawa, specifically the utilities do an excellent job of, of being part of that conversation and Envari is, is well positioned to support those conversations as well. So those are, those are some of the big things. Another big thing that municipalities are trying to do is look at their fleet turnover. So you know, sort of the natural expiration date of their different fleets. So if you look at transit fleets, or, or even, you know, things like bylaw type fleets or utility type vehicles, things like that, where there is a natural life expectancy to those vehicles, the best time to convert it to an electric vehicle is when that asset is due for replacement. Rather than replacing it early and sort of leaving an asset stranded, you can take advantage of that replacement cycle and sort of naturally come up with a plan that sort of fits in in terms of replacing those vehicles. And then along with that, you can then do sort of a bit of a work back plan to say, Okay, if I'm going to have this many electric vehicles come into my system at this point in time, I need to have the infrastructure that's going to support that. And that's where that's where the planning all the work comes into place and to getting those things set up.
Dan Seguin 11:49
Okay. Great segue here. Now, most are familiar with level one, level two chargers, as most are applicable for homes and workplaces. But when time matters, like on a highway or public parking lots, a level three charger, also known as a direct current fast charger may be better suited, wondering if you could explain the differences and their impact on the grid?
Jim Pegg 12:18
Sure, I can take a stab at that for sure. So, you know, this is a question that comes up quite often. And I think it's, it's a good one to ask. So absolutely a level one charger is essentially a wall outlet, 120 volt system, what people would find in our house we could plug your coffeemaker into. And then if you get into the level two world level two chargers a little bit faster. So it's a bit more power output. And you know, with a level one charger, you might be in eight to 12 hours to essentially trickle charge that battery with a level two charger, you've got a bit more power, a bit more flow behind that electricity pushing into the car. And you can charge your car and more of the four hour range or in some cases three and a half to four hours. Again, cars provide a bit of variance there, that I would relate to more of a 240 volt system. So if someone's thinking, you know, an electric baseboard heater in your house has 240 volts, it's got a bit more power to it. That's kind of the idea behind an electric vehicle level two charger, when you get into a level three charger, there's a bit of a range there. So of level three chargers sort of started out as the 50 kilowatt charger. And that became sort of the most common level three charger. In that case, you're getting into a much more power, higher voltages in air essentially, again, same idea as the one to two step, it's a much bigger step to the level three, and you're pushing that power into the vehicles quite a bit faster. And the power requirements are higher. Level three chargers have a range, you know, there's 50 kilowatts, and I've seen them up to 150 kilowatts. And for fleet charging, it goes up and up and up from there. And that becomes specific to the type of vehicle you have and what you're trying to charge in terms of what power it can accept. From the grid standpoint and the distribution system. It's certainly a topic that matters. I've say the level two chargers are certainly a key topic for utilities, because your distribution transformers in your subdivisions. Those have a limit to them. So as there's higher and higher penetration of electric vehicles, those distribution transformers is going to start to see more and more load. And I know utilities, especially I can say for certain Hydro Ottawa. They're closely looking at that trend, looking at what the uptake in electric vehicles will be looking at the subdivisions that are starting to pick up with more and more electric vehicles and trying to make sure that they're planning ahead for what that that transformation capacity needs to be to support that. There's also some education there that the utility can use to support the public in terms of when they charge their vehicles, the optimum time to charge the vehicle to have a less of an impact on the grid. So all those different factors come into place. With a level three charger, you're certainly in a situation of more power, you might be in a situation where you're having a dedicated service or having to increase your service. Level three charges, you'd see it places more like a mall, or commercial spaces, places where people might travel to, you know, along the highways, you might have a rest stop with a level three charger, those have obviously the higher power requirement because people are looking to charge their vehicles faster, they want the gas station experience, they want to show up, fill up the car, grab their coffee, and a doughnut, whatever it is, they're going to, you know, have their seven minute stretch and hop back in the car and off they go to wherever it is they're going, they don't want, you know, to have stopping charging being a big destination of a trip, right. And so there's that element to it. And as the population of electric vehicles grows and grows, I think you'll see that become more and more of a relevant topic - in terms of the fast charger. So utilities are certainly looking at the impact of those higher capacity chargers. And where that can be put onto the grid. Because as you know, Dan, the distribution system has its limits to the infrastructure that was built so many years ago didn't necessarily have that spare capacity on the system for such a quick increase in load to it. So utilities are taking a good hard look at where they need to make their investments and create this as a key input to their planning cycles for mid short and long term planning for capacity and supply.
Dan Seguin 16:35
Okay, so the business case for a charging station at home is fairly straightforward. But making a business case for fast chargers is a bit more challenging as it involves higher upfront capital and higher operating costs. Can you walk me through an assessment? A business case, if you want, for a large organization that wishes to install fast chargers? For argument's sake, like you were just talking about the large shopping center, looking for three fast chargers? What's the ROI? What's the benefit? How do they look at that?
Jim Pegg 17:16
Sure. And it's a great topic. And it's a question that many people ask because it's a more difficult one. As you can imagine that level three charger that fast charger has a significantly higher upfront capital costs than like a level two charger but it is the type of charger that people are looking more and more for at those places, as you say like shopping malls and shopping centers. In terms of the business case, you have to sort of take a multi-faceted approach and almost layer on the benefits. Because we're early into the I'd say the change to electric vehicles, you'll see that business case gets stronger and stronger each year. The more vehicles are out there, the more this business case will strengthen I'll tell you why. In my opinion, there are a few benefits one is with an electric vehicle charger at your mall as an example. People can have those electric vehicle chargers essentially called Smart chargers, they're part of a network they're part of a system people can go into their app and say you know does this mall I can literally zoom in on a map and see Is there an electric vehicle charger at this mall. And if there is that becomes the mall that they decide to go to, if there's multiple malls and only a couple of them have the chargers and they're driving an electric vehicle, they're going to go the safe bet and pick the one that has that charger in case they want to get some extra charge while they're in doing their shopping. So it becomes a bit of a marketing piece on that side of things. There's also the you know the different organizations that have the natural desire to have a branding around being green and supportive of the shift to electric vehicles. So that element is there but obviously that one's harder to tie to the bottom line dollars. This is why I say the front capital cost is the trickiest part. With chargers level two chargers and the fast chargers you can actually charge money for people charging and there are different rates for that. Now, obviously people get into electric vehicles for a few different reasons. One is obviously better for the environment, which is just the main. And the other side of it is their own personal pocketbook, right not spending the dollars on filling up the gas station they can get much further on their dollar. And so they don't want to go to a place and have really high cost for that that charge that fill up. So you can get some return from charging for fast charging and for level two charging. But it won't necessarily show you the payback in any kind of a short timeframe that you're looking for. So the good news is that's where we've seen the government jump in. So we've seen historically the federal government, the provincial government put out different programs to support the installation, that upfront capital cost of these different infrastructure pieces and chargers, and that makes a big difference. One of the things Envari is great at and this is all due to our relationships, I'd say with these different organizations is that we have a good handle on different funding mechanisms that are out there in different ways to enable that business case to make more sense, from strictly a financial standpoint. But I'd say that business case is going to evolve with time. You know, when everyone at that shopping center shows up with an electric vehicle, and there's a huge demand for charge, your supply and demand curve is going to kick in, you'll have people charging constantly and the payback period will be much shorter on that upfront capital cost. But for the early adopter, it's important to try and take think take advantage of those funding mechanisms that are out there.
Dan Seguin 20:54
We know that at least 30% of Canadians live in multi-unit residential buildings today, and that the number is not likely to decline. Increasingly, residential real estate is moving toward multi-tenant construction. In Canada, two out of three homes built today are multifamily. In Ontario alone, nearly 700,000 households live in condos. Can you talk to me about solutions for Canadians discouraged from buying EVs? Because they have no easy means of charging them? Either in condominiums apartment buildings, or in their home at that like a driveway or garage? What can they do? And what solutions is Envari offering?
Jim Pegg 21:44
Sure, that's another great question. So I would say there are a few things to note, I think there's lots of different policy changes and things like that taking place at a provincial level. And in some cases, federal levels to support some of these some of these areas of concern. So for example, in the multi-unit residential condo type building, there's legislation that now helps support a condo owner that wants to install electric vehicle in their building, and those condos and a condo boards are then sort of put to task to go out and find a solution that meets the needs of that tenant. And once one steps forward, you know, you might get more and more stuff for but at that point, you kind of need to put together a plan Envari helps, works hard to help support that in the sense that one of the things we offer something called an EVRA, we call it an electric vehicle readiness assessment. And we essentially use that tool to help an organization or building or property plan out their EV infrastructure. So multi-unit residential is a great example of this, where if you do it on an ad hoc approach, where you know, each time someone comes along, you've put in the effort to build out the infrastructure for them to put in that electric vehicle charging station versus a planned approach where you've come up with a holistic plan for all of your spots, not necessarily to build it all at once. But to sort of have that roadmap of what it will eventually look like. There's many different ways you can take advantage to things like existing capacity in your building. And, and really optimize that so that as people come along, it kind of turns into a bit of an easy button so that people can get a charger installed and move forward and the condo board and a condo group have met their obligations. And a customer's a nice sort of easy setup as they should expect, right? So we're seeing more and more organizations reach out to us to support them on that. And certainly one of our areas of expertise is looking at all the available options and optimizing the different scenarios. So there are a few good things there. I think no matter what type of building the EV owners live in Envari is here to help right so we evaluate the situation a case by case basis, try our best to provide a feasible charging solution for EV owners living in multi residential buildings. Again, you know, we talked about the different solutions there. But that becomes a big part of the conversation. The approach is similar with you know, with large shopping centers, we go in and do a bit of an assessment to say what are your options here without having to take on huge extra costs. Because if you go down one path versus another, there can be significant differences in the cost implications, all related to the available capacity and your different options, even the charger types that you select. One of the things Envari prides itself on is somewhat is being non committed, I'd say to two different manufacturers in the sense that we're technology agnostic, we provide different solutions to the customer. We give them different options and let the customer choose what they feel best fits them. Obviously backed up by our different recommendations and experience that we've seen. So we're always trying to find the right fit for that particular organization. It's certainly not a certainly not a one size fits all type of a scenario. You have, you have another part of that, which is, you know, people that have no driveways, or no space to park at home. That's where the municipalities and cities and towns and so on are really a big part of that conversation. I'm very happy to say here in Ottawa, that is certainly on their minds, I think the phrase that's used for that type of situation as someone whose garage orphaned in the sense that they don't have somewhere they can plug in overnight, and charge their car, and they need to rely on a public charging station. So while municipalities are looking for that location to put their public charging station, it's not just all about putting a public charging station in a busy commercial area, they're also taking into account different areas of town that might be more dense that don't have as many driveways. But there is a population of people there that need access to that type of service. So they're taking all those things into consideration when selecting sites, which takes us back to our earlier conversation about what municipalities are doing and standards. So the City of Ottawa is a good example are very forward thinking in that sense and doing a great job at really looking at those different factors to try and make sure they're meeting the needs of all their all their constituents in the city here. All the residents.
Dan Seguin 26:38
Okay, Jim, let's move on. Actually, let's expand on municipalities. Studies show that transportation accounts for 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions. So there's a huge cost and environmental benefit for municipalities to move to electric. In Ottawa, it's actually quite a bit higher, where their transportation sector accounts for 44% of the city's GHG emissions. In your opinion, what steps should municipalities take to meet their various infrastructure requirements to electrify their fleets and provide public charging requirements? How is Envari helping municipalities meet their goals? I think you touched on that a bit, but maybe expand a bit.
Jim Pegg 27:28
Yeah, no, sounds good. I think so obviously, greenhouse gas emissions can be greatly reduced by electrifying you know, bus fleets, providing public charging stations, increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road. Regarding bus fleet electrification, as chargers, for battery electric buses take a significantly higher amount of power. There are very large batteries on those buses. And you also don't want to have those buses sitting there for a long time taking a long time to charge or you want them as out on the road servicing the public. So they do take that that higher power compared with, you know, car charging or things like that. So the existing electrical capacity at transit agency, bus depots is likely to be likely not to have been designed for a shift to full electrification of their of their fleets, if you look at bus fleets as an example. So to build the electrical infrastructure, I would say municipalities and I think a lot of this is happening, municipalities are working closely with their local distribution companies, as well as organizations like Envari, to try and put together what that that roadmap looks like of going from a of a base load of x getting up to, you know, a base load that which is significantly higher. So that that can involve, you know, distribution, build outs, capacity changes, service changes. And those different stakeholders that need to look at the different options that are out there as well in terms of, you know, putting together things like large energy storage, in line with their different optimizations, that power and that, that supply of power. So there's, there's, again, there's no one size fits all, but I think I think the conversation needs to start early. There needs to be a lot of information sharing. I know municipalities also do a pretty good job of sharing their experiences with each other and I can say Envari is also very active in the in the fleet communication, the fleet world I would say in terms of having active communication with different organizations that are also working hard to convert their fleets and I think we're all learning from each other as that process goes on, and I think that's the best way to do it. I mean, you've got a situation where we're, we're trying to make some big changes that are really going to support the environment. And those big changes can have huge, long lasting impacts on our communities. But it's going to take, it's going to take many minds to put those pieces together, you know, Envari is lucky in the sense that we're really well positioned being the affiliate of the utility, we've got a lot of great utility knowledge. And at the same time, we've got a lot of great behind the meter. Customer side knowledge. And so we're somewhat well positioned to have the conversations in both directions, I would say, and, and help bring those parties together in some cases to expand on that. We're very much active supporters, believers in the shift to electric mobility, the electrification of transportation, you know, again, as I said earlier, we offer services such as EVRAs, EV charger rentals and sales and also operate and maintain type services related to electric vehicle charging. And there's other pieces that come into this whole thing, right, as soon as you're talking electric vehicles and supply capacity, things like that, you need to you need to take a step back and take a look at your total energy usage, maybe at a different at a certain facility or at a site, again, with one of the great benefits we have at Envari is having that that long lasting, that long history of, of energy management's and looking at different energy sources and supplies and ways to maximize energy and buildings. So we have our buildings division, which really looks at optimizing and making a building more energy efficient. And our lighting group, which really looks at the lighting side of energy efficiency. When you pull all those pieces together, you can really optimize how much capacity you really have available, you can really optimize what you're planning for it is, but it certainly takes looking at lots of different angles. Because the amount of investment you're going to put in, you want to make sure you're leveraging that investment as much as you can. And getting multiple uses of that investment.
Dan Seguin 31:57
On investments. I think in my view, the price of DC charging solutions has dropped while AC charging stations to the level of one and twos, at least that 50 kilowatts have been more popular. They've started to lose ground to the DC fast charging stations. What impact will this trend have on utility transformers? I think you touched on that earlier. Also, will this movement require skilled in-house Energy specialist and more engineers?
Jim Pegg 32:28
Yeah. So again, another great question. I'd say the quick answer is, it will have an impact as one would expect, you know, larger chargers means larger power draw, in turn is going to be more demand on the utility. And we talked a little bit of demand on the wire side of the utility. But upstream of those wires, you get into the utilities, power transformers and their substations. And those substations have capacity limits as well. So typically, for a level three charger, you know, a detailed site specific design is required. Working hand in hand with engineers and the local utility to come up with what that solution looks like that typically customized solution. From the utilities perspective, this will also start to have an impact on utilities, as we said, their substation, transformers, everything, even the equipment on that line in terms of the different ratings of the equipment and so on, the more power that's at play, and the more power in the system, the more requirements there are to make that system operate in a reliable and safe manner. Charging through the day. But also after hours can mean the normal cooling curve of a power transformer changes. So the more electric vehicle fleet charging, for example, in high voltage DC, excuse me fast charging. If some of that's happening at night, you're going to really be putting load on those Transformers that historically wouldn't have seen much load through the night people are sleeping. Those transformers are very much designed to have a cooling cycle to them, that cooling cycles is going to change. So I know there's a lot of people looking at those impacts to see if they're if they are going to be a negative impact or not. And if there needs to be changes to those assets moving forward in terms of understanding the impacts of sort of a more high base load 24 hours a day type situation. I would say that's those are some of the big the big pieces that are being looked at.
Dan Seguin 34:30
Okay. I'd like to go back to the investment here. We're talking about significant investments for companies and municipalities. What kind of industry experience does Envari have to assist those organizations to navigate their way through the design and scaling of an EV charging program, whether it's residential, commercial fleet, and multi residential units? I think you alluded to that earlier, but maybe you can do a deeper dive.
Jim Pegg 34:59
Yeah, sure. So I think, you know, as we did talk a little bit earlier, Envari is uniquely positioned, we do have a deep understanding of the distribution system, you know, members of our staff came right from the utility with many years of experience their various roles, and as well as the customer side, because I mean that that's our business is enabling our customer success. So with that, we're able to walk projects through rate from start to finish looking at all the short and long term impacts, as they relate to both the customer as well as the utility. And understanding the utility side of it really helps us understand where there will be pushback, or being better prepared to support the utilities questions, because the utility at the end of the day has a big responsibility as well, they're responsible to all the customers on the system to make sure the system is reliable. And if you know, for certain load comes onto the system, that's going to have a negative impact on the rest of the system utility has a responsibility to make sure that that that issue is addressed because you can't have one customer come on and cause poor reliability or issues for other parts of the system. And you know, outside of normal electric or normal, normal work that goes on there's new development, there's construction intensification in cities and things like that, those also take electrical supply. So there's going to be more and more competing priorities for electrical supply. And it Envari is in a really good position to have those conversations and understand where the optimal locations may be for things like large fleets, charging and, and that type of thing. So I would say that that supports quite a bit, as well as some other expertise that I talked about earlier, you know, looking at something like an electrical vault. Envari has a great amount of experience and understanding of buildings electrical vault, which is a key part of the puzzle for electric vehicle charging, that’s sort of the area that tells you how much available capacity you have to actually install electric vehicle chargers. And optimizing that because an electrical vault can be an expensive asset. So you want to try and optimize your building's energy usage to reduce the load on that vault so that you can then leverage that spare capacity to install electric vehicle chargers before having to upgrade. But then if you do need to upgrade, the good news is there's ways to optimize the expense of those upgrades, and to work with your utility. And there's different ways you can avoid future costs too. And some of the scenarios that we're able to, to map out for customers. So, again, I think I said before this, there's no one size fits all. And our approach of having a technology agnostic approach really helps us to create a solution that fits well for each particular customer. And to take our experience from one project to the next to support peoples' success.
Dan Seguin 38:01
Let's look at this future side of the business here, I want you to take out that crystal ball. In a smart city of tomorrow, the Internet of Things will connect residents, cars, buses, streetlights, and the public transit system. What do you see is your role in this connected city? And what is exciting you the most about this new future?
Jim Pegg 38:27
Well, let's say you know, Envari is and I realize I'm probably repeating myself on this, but we do feel very passionate about this. Envari exists to make our customers successful. So we are constantly looking for new and innovative solutions that can help our customers in new ways, right? I mean, one of my colleagues will always say, he's never gone into a building and not found an opportunity to save energy. And this might be a building that he's been in before and done things and done lots of energy retrofits, but because technology keeps changing, you know, you might go in and do work in the building and do changes to the HVAC system put in lighting control systems. All things Envari has great experience with and save a pile of money for that customer in terms of their energy costs. And maybe five years down the road, 10 years down the road, some new technology will come out related to maybe the lighting or the windows or something else related to the HVAC system where the controls have gotten even more efficient are the units have gotten even more efficient. So when that asset is ready for replacement again, you can really dive in and do more of that deep retrofit. And that all comes out of innovation. I would say our ability to take projects from concept through to completion and offer operate and maintain services, working to ensure customers have options that fit their needs. Connected cities fits in very well with all these sets of expertise. Give you a good example: We have a strong Very strong lighting group who, who I think I think has, you know, recently completed the City of Ottawa lighting conversion Project 55,000 lights in the city of Ottawa. And as you can imagine, those lights are all over the place in the city, they're everywhere, and they have power to them, they have smart nodes on them, those could become a big part of a connected city in the future, it can become a key piece to that puzzle. And our team has done a great job working with the city and, and putting in place a system that will allow some of that enhanced ability in the future. And so I think that piece that really ties our expertise together well, in terms of our understanding of control systems, and even our energy dashboard offering that we have where people can enter, monitor their energy consumption, and energy usage. All those things tie into sort of the world we live in today, where people want information right away. And information right away allows for, you know, adjustment of plans and constantly looking for new and efficient ways to do things. And that's what we're trying to support. We're trying to support our customer success in an ever changing technological world. I think what excites me the most, I'd have to say, what excites me the most is, I think the opportunity that lies in front of all of us right now. I think we're all well aware of the situation with regards to the environment. And I think something COVID has shown us is with all the vehicles off the road, as an example, we've got now hard data that shows us the impact that can have on the environment. And you know, before it was a theoretical thing, because it wasn't really practical to the go to all of North America, for example, say, hey, can everyone stay home today? You know, anybody the laughed off the curve kind of thing. But now, that's almost happened. And we can look at that and say, Wow, look what that did in the atmosphere. And with all those emissions just shutting off. And that is what it will be like if we you know, convert to that electric vehicle situation, with more and more electric vehicles on the road. So, again, I think what excites me is is that opportunity we have, as a society to have a really significant impact positive impact on our environment, a real turning point to set this planet up nicely for our kids and grandkids.
Dan Seguin 42:35
You talked about the cookie cutter. So I'd like to come back to that. Jim, with so many variables like charging hubs, workplace charging for fleets, multi residential, and electric public transit, I'm assuming there isn't a single cookie cutter solution for all? Based on your experience, can you tell us about the different types and the processes to implement these?
Jim Pegg 43:07
Sure, as you say, there are many different scenarios. And Envari's approach typically for depends on the type of charge or the type of the scenario we're looking at. But our approach is often to start with what I referred to earlier was our EVRA in electric vehicle readiness assessment. Or essentially, we'll go in, we'll look at a building's capacity, and we'll look at the different options, we'll find out from a customer what it is that they are trying to accomplish, what is their specific need. From there, we'll talk about the different experiences we've had in the different things we've seen that have taken place and other places, again, as I alluded to earlier, so that we can learn from all those experiences and pull that knowledge together. But again, ultimately, it's about finding out from the customer, what exactly it is they're trying to achieve. And then from there, we'll put in front of them a number of different solutions, things that take advantage of different types of charging technology, things that look at different types of metering technology. There's, there's so many different solutions out there right now that you can put together almost like a little puzzle, to really find that perfect fit for an organization in terms of the situation they're trying to resolve. Once we understand those goals, again, longer term possibilities, and we've laid out the options. We're also in a great situation that we can actually build out that infrastructure. So we can actually do the build it the design the engineering, build out that infrastructure for the customer and basically right through commissioning. And we also offer an operating maintain type of solution. So you know, and again, I'll see I'll see this and I know we've said it a couple times here today, but there is no single cookie cutter solution, there just isn't. Even the standards around electric vehicles are ever changing. And the types of chargers I'm sure will change in the future, you know, a great example is some stuff we're seeing out of Toronto where they're taking situations where you wouldn't normally be able to put a fast charger because of maybe capacity constraints. And they're marrying up the charger with battery storage, so that they can you know, from the grids perspective, , you see a normal, moderate size load. But then on the charger side, on the car side, you can get actually a DC fast charge out of it, because you've got it paired with a battery that can discharge when you need it, and then trickle charge when that's not being used. So I mean, innovation, like that's going to go a long way. And, as I said, we're trying to stay on top of all those different innovations that come out to provide those best solutions for our customers.
Dan Seguin 46:02
Cool. Thank you, Jim. With the significant increase of demand on the grid, how important is the management of power to balance the load? What are some of the things you identify with local utilities? And what should they do? And what should they be looking for, to support electrifying transportation today?
Jim Pegg 46:29
Yeah, so I mean, as we've discussed, understanding the charger penetration on the distribution system, predicting when those chargers will be installed, and at what rate. And lastly, understanding the operation of those chargers will be a key piece of the information to support strong system planning. The good news is utilities do a great job of constantly looking at the distribution system, working to understand future demands on the system. This takes us back to the importance of having those conversations with utilities early. And it's important about having the right partner can support you who knows what questions to ask of those utilities.
Dan Seguin 47:12
Jim, can you give me in your opinion about today's big question, are electric utilities and oil companies to industries in unique positions to help build a true EV movement in Canada? The former controls electricity distribution networks in the provinces and municipalities, while the ladder already operates strategically located fuel stations for internal combustion vehicles. What are your thoughts on that?
Jim Pegg 47:45
Well, I would say if you've probably heard me echo this comment throughout in terms of the utility. I absolutely think the answer to the utility piece of that is clear. I think utilities are a key piece of the puzzle. Organizations like Envari that understand utility world, as well as the customer side of the meter. I think I think there are some key pieces there. I think the utilities obviously have a great understanding of the power flow and the impacts of the system. They're the ones that are going to do your technical deep dive to see if you've got, you know, very big bank of large fast chargers in one area, is that going to have any impact on systems power quality and, and things like that in terms of the type of load, you know, things that things that not everyone may think of. So those are, those are some key factors. But I think the utility is absolutely a part of that. Because, you know, at the end of the day, people, myself included, look to the utility for reliable power supply. And as we're converting things like fleets, and even especially transportation fleets that reliable power supply becomes somewhat critical to the economy in the sense that moving people around, you know, transportation move people around, if the lights go out, you want to make sure you've got maybe a good redundant backup supply. Or you have a system that's going to allow for switching the distribution system and maybe even automated switching at some point. So utilities are doing lots of different things. You know, as they as they work to change that ever changing landscape, again, COVID is a great example of that, right with a lot of people working from home. The utilities are, are working hard to make sure that they don't disrupt people that are working from home. Regarding the large oil companies. And I think, I believe, I believe we'll see more and more of those organizations getting involved with EV charging infrastructure. You know, as you notice, gas stations are everywhere and well suited for fast charging. We see more innovation on how to best use those properties. I think the electrification of vehicles is going to drive many changes in that respect.
Dan Seguin 50:04
Okay, Jim, let's close off with rapid fire questions. I hope you're ready.
Jim Pegg 50:09
Dan Seguin 50:10
What is your favorite word?
Jim Pegg 50:13
Dan Seguin 50:14
What is the one thing you can't live without?
Jim Pegg 50:17
Dan Seguin 50:18
What habits or hobbies have you picked up during shelter in place?
Jim Pegg 50:23
That's a good one. I would say I do a lot more cooking
Dan Seguin 50:26
Okay. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Jim Pegg 50:32
Well, you're asking me this during the fall. So I'm going to go with the ability to fly and fly around and see all the nice colors. It's probably my favorite time of year.
Dan Seguin 50:41
Good one, good one. If you could turn back time, and talk to your 18 year old self? What would you tell him?
Jim Pegg 50:51
I think I would say your career path won't be a straight line. But that's okay.
Dan Seguin 50:58
And lastly, what do you currently find most interesting in your sector?
Jim Pegg 51:04
I'm going to tie this back to the innovation. I think the amount of innovation and the number of little things that I see that can have such a huge impact on the environment. And I really do believe there's a big opportunity in front of all of us right now to have a very large lasting impact.
Dan Seguin 51:22
Cool. Well, Jim, we've reached the end of another episode of think energy podcast. Last question for you. How can our listeners learn more about you the company? And how can they connect?
Jim Pegg 51:35
Well, I guess the best way is to check out our website at envari.com, and you can always reach out to myself or called my colleagues on LinkedIn as well. And we're always happy to have the conversations. Sometimes we might go on for too long, because obviously it's a many different topics we're passionate about. So, but always happy to chat and learn from each other.
Dan Seguin 51:59
Okay, again, Jim, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you had a lot of fun.
Jim Pegg 52:04
Yeah, that was great. Dan, thanks very much. Always, always great to have your conversations with you.
Dan Seguin 52:09
Thank you for joining us today. I truly hope you enjoyed this episode of ThinkEnergy podcast. For past episodes, make sure you visit our website hydroottawa.com/podcast. Lastly, if you found value in this podcast, be sure to subscribe. Anyway, this podcast is a wrap. Cheers, everyone.