To inform the development of effective programs and policies supporting electric vehicles (EVs) and EV-related infrastructure, Measurement Canada contracted Deloitte to examine policies and programs relating to the billing and trade measurement of electricity supplied to EVs. Based on insights from their literature review, industry research, and key informant interviews, Deloitte provided a report in March 2021 that identified the following key considerations for Measurement Canada's development of policies and programs.
Currently, Measurement Canada requires a pre-approved and inspected utility-grade electricity meter to charge based on kilowatt-hour (kWh). Currently there are no approved measurement standards or protocols for testing electric vehicle charging devices in Canada. This prevents the use of kWh billing when charging an EV. As a result, time-based or flat-fee billing is used by pay‑per-use public charging station owners in Canada. Deloitte emphasizes that performance‑based requirements to enable kWh charging should seek to overcome cost and regulatory burdens from the perspective of manufacturers and EV charging device operators. The report also emphasizes protecting the consumer and ensuring they receive an accurate and reliable measurement of electricity.
EV charging device meter design
Today, different business models and technologies for metering EV charging energy consumption exist, such as embedded metrology or separate modular metering. In Canada, EV charging devices are predominantly equipped with embedded metrology that is capable of electricity measurement. There are key cost advantages for embedded meters as they are smaller in physical size compared to modular or revenue-grade meters. The report recommends that Measurement Canada's policies concerning EV charging device meter design be developed considering existing technologies, with some built-in flexibility to accommodate any future advancements.
Metering accuracy ranges and grandfathering provisions
Current EV charging device metering solutions generally provide accuracy ranges of around 2% to 3% for publicly accessible chargers. International findings indicate tolerance levels are between 0.5% and 3.5%. Generally, the utility industry metrology for alternating current (AC) power is relatively well established. However, direct current (DC) metering is generally limited to special-purpose applications such as the rail industry. When defining accuracy levels and metering requirements, the report recommends that Measurement Canada consider the trade‑off between EV charging costs and convenience for consumers. Measurement Canada should consider the fact that kWh metering requirements developed today will need to take into account the immediate concerns of the current infrastructure and the future concerns of the market. As both the industry and technology advance, standards should stipulate an acceptable level of accuracy for existing EV meters operating today with revised levels of accuracy for new EV charging meters. In addition, the requirements will need to consider diverse EV users in the ecosystem. As new metering requirements are introduced, establishing grandfathering provisions will also play an essential role in enabling equitable pricing schemes for early action investors in the industry. Some international standards allow for a lag time for existing meters to meet required standards. Grandfathering provisions will allow existing EV chargers to bill based on kWh with meters that exhibit lower levels of accuracy.
Harmonizing billing features
Currently, billing methods and the information displayed to consumers from public charging stations vary depending on the charging network. As billing methods vary across different charging networks, invoices may be in different forms (e.g. digital, paper or short message system [SMS]) depending on the station and preference of the consumer. In some international jurisdictions, there are EV charging device display requirements for public-facing stations. As Measurement Canada develops its policies and programs, the report recommends ensuring that billing is clear, correct, and accurate. As kWh billing is established, charging station operators will look to have flexible billing structures to support EV charger accessibility. Ensuring transparent and flexible billing systems will be essential to accommodate the rise of digital information sharing.
Future EV charging technologies
In Canada, the current EV charging technology industry is composed of standard EV charging device infrastructure, supportive technology (metering and battery capacity) and innovative EV charging devices which optimize charging performance. Several emerging technologies can impact the way EVs are charged for electricity, reducing the cost and time associated with owning an EV. Due to grid interconnectivity, smart charging technology allows for maximum grid efficiency by monitoring and managing the electricity used for EV charging. Blockchain charging is an emerging technology applied to EV charging which acts as a digital ledger for electricity usage and the exchange of payments. Wireless charging is an emerging technology that seeks to improve the user experience by allowing non-radiative electrical power transfer through a magnetic field. Innovation in the battery technology field increases the density of EV batteries and changes battery chemistry to increase EV energy capacity. Several companies are exploring ultra-fast charging technologies that can charge at power levels higher than 350 kW. Many of the current technologies are likely to be long-term solutions, with innovation focusing on improving the end user's experience. Technological innovations in the EV and EV charging device markets can increase the need for equitable pricing models for publicly accessible charging stations. Introducing cost-reflective pricing will be particularly important to reflect advances in battery ranges because EVs draw power at different rates during the charging process making time-based billing less equitable.