The electric vehicle industry has received a lot of buzz in the past few years. In 2018 alone, market penetration increased 80 percent. As customers make the shift towards electric, the utility companies are pressed with a unique challenge; how to keep electric vehicle charging from overwhelming the power grid. The answer could be managed charging.
Managed charging, also referred to as V1G, is the practice of charging electric vehicles during off-peak hours to offset mass grid usage and restore grid balance. Electric Vehicles are flexible loads that can be managed to absorb power when there is excess capacity on the grid. Managed charging is beneficial in providing a decentralized, renewable, and flexible power source that could produce $2.6 billion in cumulative consumer benefits through 2030, according to the Smart Electric Power Alliance. While managed charging provides clear and significant benefits to the utilities, selling the idea to customers will take a more strategic plan.
There are several strategies that can be deployed for managed charging, ranging from opportunities that require a lower investment but have less control such as energy usage and feedback strategies to more complex or higher investment strategies that provide more control such as direct load control. One of the strategies that several utilities have started to pilot fall in the middle of the spectrum. This strategy is to use price signals to shape EV load and can be achieved with rebate, reward or rate/tariff signals. These strategies are typically deployed at either the vehicle level via telematics technologies and can monitor vehicle charging anywhere it charges or at the charger level via a connected charger. There are additional opportunities to integrate managed charging by linking them to state incentives and policies, state requirements for zero emission vehicles, and electric vehicle readiness planning by local governments, according to a report compiled by the Smart Electric Power Alliance. To further the ease of participation, consumers can often control charging patterns with their smart phones or participate in utility aggregation programs. This means that customers can use an app to schedule their car’s charging and power level or have the utility manage charging patterns altogether with the ability to override when necessary.
Despite the industry’s best efforts, not all customers are receptive to the idea of electric vehicles. Crafting a clear managed charging program may help consumers overcome some of the cost barriers and further increase market penetration.
There are currently 38 managed charging programs across the country to test out the success rate of managed charging. Each pilot program is in various stages of development. The data gathered through these pilots are crucial to helping utilities manage the power on the grid and prepare for the steady increase in EV adoption. Based on the data collected, state and utilities can work to establish a reliable managed charging program to benefit the consumers, utilities, state, and environment while providing significant economic value.
Smart Electric Power Alliance. (n.d.). A Comprehensive Guide to Electric Vehicle Managed Charging. Washington DC. https://sepapower.org/resource/a-comprehensive-guide-to-electric-vehicle-managed-charging/
Citizens Utility Board. (n.d.). Charging Ahead Deriving Value from Electric Vehicles for all Electricity Customers. https://www.citizensutilityboard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Charging-Ahead-Deriving-Value-from-Electric-Vehicles-for-All-Electricity-Customers-v6-031419.pdf