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Certifying the Future: How Electrical Contractors Are Meeting EV Charging And Smart Grid Demands

Happening now, at a parking facility near you: “charging rage,” or what happens when there isn’t anywhere to plug in your electric vehicle (EV) because other people have been hogging the charging stalls.

Andy Cleven, Training Director at the Electrical Joint Training Committee (EJTC) and himself the satisfied owner of a hybrid vehicle, predicts that charging rage could happen a lot more in future. And Cleven is, after all, in the business of certifying the future; that is, the future of electrical contracting in Canada.

Cleven oversees candidate screening, intake, and all training, skills upgrading and certification programs offered by the EJTC, to about 2,000 journeypersons and 600 apprentices a year. The EJTC itself is market-driven, and Cleven estimates the industry needs an additional intake of 200–250 new journeypersons per year to meet rising demand; currently, 125–175 apprentices qualify for journeyperson status each year.

We spoke with Cleven about his thoughts on EV charging stations, smart grids, renewable energy generation and recently commercialized battery storage technologies. “This is the future for our industry. We have to be on the leading edge…we have to be there ready to take charge when the marketplace dictates. Is it now, is it next year—when is that tipping point going to happen? But it is a lot of work, and it is important to our industry that this work is done by qualified tradespeople working for licensed contractors under a permit... to standards that ensure public safety.”

Cleven projects a high growth market for EVs and supporting installations within the next two years, propelled by government incentives and regulations; consumer interest; private sector fuel and maintenance cost savings; and emerging alternative power generation/battery storage technologies that circumvent conventional grid overload.

With a 43-year career in the trade and ten years as EJTC Training Director, Cleven has ample past and present perspective on the industry to see where it’s headed—and the steps needed to ensure electrical contractors stay profitable in a rapidly evolving tech landscape.

The EJTC has been offering Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program (EVITP) training and certification for the past 18 months in partnership with The National Electrical Trade Council (NETCO), an industry-funded, joint labour-management advocacy group. The EVITP trains and certifies qualified electrical tradespeople to install EV supply equipment. The EJTC also offers a “train the trainer” course to instructors from other associations or colleges interested in offering EVITP certification to journeypersons across the country, in the interest of ensuring the industry as a whole will be ready to meet regulatory requirements and client demand.

The Canadian EVITP training and certification curriculum is based on feedback from a series of nationwide NETCO-sponsored workshops and on the prevailing EVITP standard in the US, modified to meet 2012 Canadian Electrical Code (CEC 2012) standards.

Find out more: watch the highlights from our recent discussion with Andy Cleven about being on the industry’s leading edge when the mass adoption tipping point arrives; what’s awesome and challenging about owning, driving and charging an EV; the healthy EV outlook in BC; the “greening” of commercial fleets; and how a smart grid actually works.

What are the existing government regulatory support and implementation guidelines for EV chargers and smart grids in Canada? Check out our recent post on The Rise Of Smart Grids And The Return Of The Electric Car.

Catch up on the race toward commercialization of new battery tech, in The Next Big (Battery) Thing: The Li-ion, Al-air and Solid-state Wars.

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