18 May 2023

'We don't know for sure': Evoenergy lays bare how it's trying to prepare Canberra's network for uptick in EVs

| Claire Fenwicke
Join the conversation

Evoenergy substation. The company expects some demand would be tempered by people using their own solar and batteries. Photo: evoenergy.

There’s no guarantee our energy bills won’t increase dramatically to accommodate increased pressures on the electricity grid due to the charging of electric vehicles (EVs).

A second committee inquiry hearing into EV adoption in the ACT was held on Thursday (18 May), with Evoenergy representatives appearing to explain how the Territory’s electricity network and infrastructure will need to adapt as more Canberrans move away from petrol or diesel-reliant vehicles.

Evoenergy has previously submitted it expected EV charging would have a “material impact” on the grid and so residential electricity bills would only rise on average by about $7 to help absorb the cost of upgrades needed, as estimated for the period 2024 to 2029.

However, that’s not the full picture.

“That’s purely what will happen from our side of the bill,” Evoenergy general manager Peter Billing explained.

“Currently, our [side of] the bill is 25 to 30 per cent of the total electricity bill.

“What we obviously don’t control are the costs outside of that, which is the broader generation cost, the use of the transmission network and so on.”

Man in suite in front of an evoenergy banenr

Evoenergy general manager Peter Billing: “We’ve got to estimate when we think the majority of that charging will happen, but nobody kind of knows that until it happens.” Photo: Supplied.

The modelled average $7 increase for residents also doesn’t take into account the consumer price index (CPI) and has made assumptions on how much the need for energy will increase.

However, Mr Billing was confident any increase on top of the $7 wouldn’t be huge.

“We do feel that over time, during that period to 2045, that bills relatively won’t rise greatly because the utilisation of the network will significantly increase,” he said.

“[Also by that stage] you won’t have a gas bill anymore, so your gas load is now, in some form or other, in your electricity bill, you won’t have a fuel bill, necessarily … so utilisation of the network goes up which actually helps to moderate what might happen to bills.”

READ ALSO Is it finally about to become easier to find a car park in Braddon? The short answer is no…

Evoenergy has asked the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) for total capital funding for the 2024 to 2029 period of $521 million, of which $90 million would be used to specifically augment the network for the expected increase in EV uptake.

This doesn’t mean they get funding from the AER but ensures the money Evoenergy recuperates from consumers through our bills matches the level of money needed.

The money would be used to prepare the ACT’s network on Evoenergy’s end for an expected increase in energy demand for people to charge their EVs, such as new or upgraded wires, cables, transformers and substations.

Not everything will need to be changed or upgraded as it depends on where peak demand is and the make-up of each substation zone, such as residential compared with commercial.

“We’ve got 14 zoned substations [in the ACT] at the moment – most of those zoned substations won’t need any work,” Mr Billing told the inquiry.

It’s also expected some demand would be tempered by people using their own solar and batteries.

But not everything to prepare for added pressure on the network can be provided by Evoenergy either.

Places such as apartment buildings will need to upgrade switchboards and the like to allow more electricity into their system.

“There may be additional capital that that facility may need to put towards that, which isn’t part of the $90 million,” Mr Billing said.

READ ALSO Electric vehicle owners welcome new federal EV plan, but there’s still room for improvement

Evoenergy has also tried to predict when peak demand periods for charging EVs would occur and how they would differ from other appliances.

Data currently isn’t available to factor in how vehicle-to-grid (or vehicle-to-building) contributions would adjust any modelling, and assumptions have also been made about the impact of community batteries.

Mr Billing said they expected stronger demand in the middle of the day for people with solar charging their cars, while there would also be ‘convenience chargers’ who juice up their vehicles overnight.

But given it’s not an exact science, they want to prepare for anything.

“It doesn’t matter what time of the day the peak occurs, the peak is the peak. That’s what we’ve got to build for,” Evoenergy strategy and group operations manager Leylann Hinch told the inquiry.

Overall, Mr Billing said all they could do was make sure the network was prepared enough to deliver the services that customers wanted.

“The reality is we don’t know for sure how people will respond, when they will charge. We’ve got to estimate when we think the majority of that charging will happen, but nobody kind of knows that until it happens,” he said.

“[The community has told us] ‘you need to manage the impact, particularly on those that are least able to afford increases, but you must ensure you invest to meet the demand that’s likely to come’.

“Nobody wants to see their bill go up, of course, but the reality is there is investment [that’s going to happen].”

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

A typical scenario of privatise the profits, socialise the costs. Evo energy should have anticipated the increased demand years ago and have started investing their profits rather than paying these out to shareholders.

TruthinMedia6:57 am 19 May 23

The increase of $7 isn’t referenced to a kw/hr or time period so is it $7/day, /week? Also, this whole the home gas and car fuel expenditure going to electricity will moderate costs is fantasy – no corporation will reduce prices or price increases simply because they can sell more. They are effectively a monopoly. And then there are all the others in that ‘value’ chain. I lived in Singapore where the massive cost of the certificate of entitlement (CoE) to own a car made car ownership a luxury for the rich but at least there was effective public transport and groceries could be bought in your local market.

Victor Bilow9:25 pm 18 May 23

That tells us the discounts EV owners are getting is being paid by the rest of the community!
Thank you Labour/green government for your free, free, and more free to the EV owners.

Sorry, but I have no intention of replacing my petrol powered car with an EV, so I won’t have a fuel saving to offset the rise in electricity prices. Next………

Look no further than than the depreciation of the 1st gen Nissan Leaf and a hefty bill of replacing the battery pack being worth more than the actually car

This is a joke in the making, all brought on by government policies

Just imagine the future….. Someone comes home from work and plugs in the EV to charge up…..meanwhile dinner is being prepared in the electric oven and cooktop while the reverse cycle air con is to cooling or heating the house while kids are having a bath and the electric hot water is heating… then times that by the majority of the population. Thats going to one hell of a load on the system especially of the evening after sunset

Yep, and speaking as an Engineer, if you force everyone into EVs ( some of us will refuse, by the way….im happy with my diesel….) then charging an EV will pretty much double the load on the grid. So unless they upgrade the whole grid, we are likely going to have brown outs or blackouts. Brownouts destroy appliances, blackouts trap people in lifts and cause other issues.

Green isnt about the planet

Alvin Santos5:56 pm 18 May 23

One way to get around the parking issues, is to provide parking just 5 minutes away from medium density housing in a building built for purpose (see Europe). This approach is more economical as all the parking/charging equipment/cables are in one place. The Capital Design Review Panel has presented evidence for the effectiveness of pedestrian precincts with medium density housing (yes, you can still drive your car in but not park at the door). Currently the building code requires two parking spaces for large apartments and parking spots are tied to the apartment title. You cannot sell the parking spot even if you do not have a car. The body corporate is, therefore, forced to manage a huge amount of parking. Provision of parking is costly for developers. Can we imagine, in the ACT, selling apartments without parking? In the time of house affordability, this may be an option.

Seriously, your kidding?

Alvin Santos12:10 pm 20 May 23

We already to precinct planning for electricity, water, sewerage, storm water, traffic, public transport, and more. Why not include the parking in precinct planning. Some parking is broadly tied to street hierarchy under the Estate Development Code and approved through an Estate Development Plan. Decentralised parking though is poorly suited to charging electric vehicles as the infrastructure is decentralised. Pedestrian friendly streets essential involves encouraging cars to stay on and close to movement corridors and place making for pedestrians in adjacent areas, thus separating fast cars and vulnerable pedestrians as much as possible.

privatepublic4:57 pm 18 May 23

Not sure but didn’t the lab/green sell off 50% of EvoEnergy to a Sino/Singaporean state energy company (s). I gather the above-mentioned will require a profit to be drawn if an upgrade to the poles and wires is required.

Capital Retro7:37 am 19 May 23

Jemena owns half of EvoEnergy and manages the gas side of the business.

Jemena is 60% owned by State Grid Corporation of China and 40% by Singapore Power. SGSP (Australia) Assets Pty Ltd.

It’s much worse than you thought.

Alvin Santos3:39 pm 18 May 23

Note Error – “voltages” ist incorrect. Apartments need more power when every apartment with 2 parking places has 2 EVs. Voltage ist fixed. More Power for Evs mean more cables (capacity) to and from the switch board, all the way from the garage to the street. All these upgrades cost money. Also required: new metre and billing systems, load management, visitor parking. The voltage does not change.

Answers to this and many other questions regarding EV use, impacts and preparations lie no further away for Canberra than the Norwegian embassy. A country that is a decade or more ahead of Canberra in EV rollout, use and impacts. I’d love for someone from CBR to simply knock on their door and ask.

Alvin Santos3:45 pm 18 May 23

Every jurisdiction seems to have to go through the same decades long learning cuve rather than follow best pratice.

Norway is 100% renewable. Already stated in comments below. What’s that from? Hydro. Hey Greens, we’d like to dam more rivers in QLD for Hydro. Greens – NO. In NSW – NO. In VIC – NO. IN TAS – NO. Moral of the story for new Hydro projects in Australia to produce clean energy – NO. Thanks Greens!

Victor Bilow9:22 pm 18 May 23

I think you need to investigate Norway’s facts. Norwegian hydropower plants produce 136.4 TWh, which is 90 % of Norway’s total power production. Population is the same as Sydney and travel distance is less than half. NSW = 800,640 km2, Norway = 323,802 sq km.

Oh, look over there – higher bills to cater for toffs who can afford very expensive EVs. Simon, Tahiti please

Felix the Cat2:45 pm 18 May 23

What an apt name the general manager of Evoenergy has!

Capital Retro2:42 pm 18 May 23

The renewables green dream is turning into a nightmare, it’s not just Evoenergy customers that are exposed, every electricity consumer in Australia is.

The solution is do what is necessary and fund by the (EV, home battery and home solar) “user pays” principle. Why should the rest of us who can’t afford an EV and all the other virtue signaling stuff be threatened like this?

I think Evoenergy are out of their depth on this. “Energy for the Future” indeed.

Um, this will be funded by user pays, what are you on about?

If you get an EV, you will pay for the infrastructure through the electricity that you use at the set rate when you use it. Exactly like what happens right now.

Capital Retro5:52 pm 18 May 23

If EVs were not available the need for these changes wouldn’t be necessary. Correct me if I am wrong (I am all the time as far as you are concerned) but the cost of electricity for EVs is the same as it is for running a double bar radiator in a home so whey should the radiator user subsidize the EV owner?

Chewy, you are also making the assumption that renewables and EVs are here to stay. They have only come this far because of massive taxpayer funded subsidies and concessions and that is no longer sustainable.

Capital Retro,
The main causes of peak demand on the network is and will remain air conditioning and winter space heating.

So, I’m assuming you actually want those who heat or cool their home to pay for any required upgrades due to peak capacity limitations in the network right?

Why should an EV owner be forced to subsidise peoples choices to heat or cool their entire houses under your logic?

“Chewy, you are also making the assumption that renewables and EVs are here to stay. They have only come this far because of massive taxpayer funded subsidies and concessions and that is no longer sustainable.”

Bahahaha, I’m not making an assumption, it’s self evident.

Why would we go back to more expensive fossil fuel energy sources? Seems like you want to pay more for electricity.


Capital Retro3:11 pm 19 May 23

Perhaps you can tell me how fossil fuel energy sources are going to replaced given that they presently supply 84% of global energy?

This is 2% less that it was 20 years ago and we all know how many TAXPAYER SUBSIDIZED BIRD BLENDERS AND SOLAR PANELS have been installed since then.

We can’t possibly imagine the cost and scope of mining to be involved in making a 100% transition to renewables. This is not self-evident, it’s just an inconvenient obstacle.

Capital Retro,
“Perhaps you can tell me how fossil fuel energy sources are going to replaced given that they presently supply 84% of global energy?”

Hardly surprising that your figures aren’t actually current. The current number for global energy is actually 82%, a figure that has decreased 4% in the last decade. Hmm, it’s unlike you to attempt to cherry pick figures in an attempt to support your predetermined position.

But the answer to your question is with cheaper renewable energy sources as already stated. The trend is clear and accelerating.

Local context provides this perfectly. More than a third of Australia’s electricity is now supplied through renewables, a figure that has doubled in the last 6 years. A trend that has been consistent for years. Yet you think it will stop, despite renewable energy becoming ever cheaper. Laughable.

“We can’t possibly imagine the cost and scope of mining to be involved in making a 100% transition to renewables. This is not self-evident, it’s just an inconvenient obstacle.”

Well for those who deliberately avoid the information showing how it is already happening, it is probably difficult.

For those who actually know what they are talking about though, it’s quite simple amd supported by actual evidence.

I get it, change is hard for some people, but you probably should try and accept the reality of what is occurring.

Tom Worthington2:18 pm 18 May 23

If the EV chargers are intelligent, they should have minimal impact on the grid, and may even help. What would assist is tariffs to encourage off peak charging. But even without that, the chargers should not endanger the grid, as if there is not the capacity to charge a car at a particular time, the changer can be remotely switched to a lower charge rate, or turned off completely. Bidirectional chargers can provide power at peak times. You need about 1 kWh for 6 km of driving. So someone doing a typical 40 km a day will need about 7 kwh, which they could get from an ordinary power point in 3 hours in the middle of the night, when there is excess capacity. My colleagues at the ANU Battery Storage and Grid Integration Program are working out the technicalities, and the incentives people will need.

Alvin Santos3:50 pm 18 May 23

Not just incentives but solutions for body corporates and Update the ACT building code.

privatepublic5:06 pm 18 May 23

Having driven and been a passenger in a Tesla I can state I am very impressed. However if bi-directional means taking the power from an EV, would that add another cycle to the battery. If that is the case the battery will lose some life over a period of time. Please correct me if I am wrong.

This is very poor forward planning by the ACT Government without co-ordinating firstly with the local power authority prior to making future plans. What if the grid doesn’t support an increasing number of EV’s & dare I say it the trams without heavy extra cost?

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.