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Ontario’s Transit Fleets of the Future: $14.6 million investment to explore how TTC subways, electric buses and batteries can support growing electricity needs

April 22, 2022

IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund supports new solutions that reinforce electricity system reliability, sustainability and affordability

Toronto, ON, April 22, 2022 – No longer just a means of getting from point A to point B, subways and electric buses can also be used with battery storage to actively contribute to the reliability of the power grid. The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) is investing $4.3 million, and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), City of Toronto and PowerON are investing $10.3 million in two projects that will explore innovative ways that large batteries can help subways and electric buses reduce peak demands and strain on the electricity system.

The IESO forecasts that electrification of Ontario’s transportation sector is expected to grow an average of 20 per cent a year for the foreseeable future. For local utilities and the IESO, this presents a challenge of meeting increased electricity demand – as well as the opportunity to use new technologies to create dynamic solutions to meet long-term energy needs.

Batteries can store energy during periods of low demand and then supply it during on-peak hours, reducing electricity costs and potentially deferring grid infrastructure upgrades. The IESO’s Grid Innovation Fund is investing in pilot projects such as these ones to enable local forms of supply to contribute to the resiliency, sustainability and affordability of the power grid.

The learnings from the projects announced today have the potential to promote transportation electrification, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support local community sustainability goals. The TTC already has the largest fleet of battery-electric buses in North America, and will transition its fleet in line with the City of Toronto’s TransformTO target of achieving net zero emissions by 2040.

The two projects in today’s announcement are:

  • Complementing electric buses with battery storage – PowerON will deploy a smart charging management system and batteries to minimize how much the battery-electric buses charge from the grid at peak at TTC’s Birchmount and Malvern garages. The batteries will also demonstrate how they can provide grid services such as energy, operating reserve and capacity to the provincial electricity market. Partners: PowerON Energy Solutions LP, Toronto Transit Commission, City of Toronto’s Environment and Energy Division.
  • Maximizing regenerative braking on TTC subway trains – The pilot project will store excess energy from the subway system’s existing regenerative braking system for later use. Currently, TTC trains use the regenerative braking system to capture a portion of the kinetic energy generated from braking and transfer that energy to other trains that use it to accelerate. The energy storage system will allow the TTC to use energy that would otherwise be burned off as heat. Partners: Toronto Transit Commission, City of Toronto’s Environment and Energy Division, PowerON.

Since its inception in 2005, the IESO's Grid Innovation Fund has supported more than 260 projects, taking innovative ideas from the sector that can enhance reliability, sustainability and resiliency of the provincial electricity system. A third-party analysis of 27 past innovation projects showed that if those technologies were adopted more widely across the province, they could reduce system and customer costs by half a billion dollars.


“There is so much potential for public transit systems to use electricity not just to reduce emissions, but also contribute back to the grid. As Ontario’s electricity demand is forecast to grow year over year, the IESO is looking at ways to tap into these local resources to help keep the local and provincial grid reliable and sustainable.”

- Lesley Gallinger, President and CEO of the Independent Electricity System Operator

“Meeting the energy challenges of tomorrow requires innovative, solution-oriented thinking today. As our government puts shovels in the ground to build new subways and other public transit, these projects will leverage existing infrastructure at the TTC that will drive efficiencies, provide electricity to the wider Ontario grid and create savings for ratepayers.”

- Todd Smith, Ontario Minister of Energy

“By leveraging our city’s existing transit infrastructure to transform how electricity is stored, managed and distributed, we are creating an electricity system in Ontario that is clean, affordable, reliable and sustainable. Working together, we are building the Ontario of tomorrow right here, right now.”

- Stan Cho, Ontario Associate Minister of Transportation

"As we look to advance the electrification of all vehicles to meet our climate goals, these projects will help us make the TTC transit system more sustainable and efficient, and most importantly it will contribute to a cleaner, greener city. The only way forward in prioritizing climate action and reducing our carbon footprint is by working with all levels of government on projects such as these two new ones. Thank you to the IESO for your contribution to this important work and for ensuring that Toronto remains a resilient city."

- Mayor John Tory, City of Toronto

"By partnering with the IESO, the TTC is pursuing new and innovative approaches to build resiliency and sustainability across our transit network. These projects leverage TTC assets and new technologies to reduce peak energy demand and capture excess energy, allowing the TTC to operate efficiently while also giving back to the power grid."

- Councillor Jaye Robinson, Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission

“Ontario’s clean electricity system is perfectly positioned to help decarbonize transportation and other higher-emitting sectors to help meet climate change goals. This project is a great example of how PowerON’s innovative systems can not only help green transit, but also provide value and savings to Ontario ratepayers.”

- Keegan Tully, Managing Director of PowerON

About the Independent Electricity System Operator

The IESO operates Ontario’s power grid 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring Ontarians receive a reliable and cost-effective source of power when and where they need it. It works with sector partners and engages with communities across Ontario to plan and prepare for the province’s electricity needs now and into the future.

About PowerON Energy Solutions

PowerON minimizes the risk of electrification of fleets, like the TTC’s buses, by taking on the construction and operation of charging infrastructure, greatly simplifying the process while allowing organizations like the TTC to focus on core operations. PowerON’s solution reduces cost and time to electrify while increasing charging reliability for fleets.

About City of Toronto

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of more than 2.9 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities.


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