Utilities scattered around the nation have begun pilot and demonstration projects largely focused on changing people’s behavior so they don’t plug in their cars at what is generally peak electric usage time.
Con Edison – the iconic utility that serves New York City and some of its suburbs – is already past the pilot stage for its incentive-driven charging program
. Begun in April 2017
as a 100-car pilot, it went full scale that July and now includes about 1,000 private vehicles, plus about 750 fleet vehicles in New York City.
The goal is to get people with EVs to charge them between midnight and 8 a.m., the lowest electricity usage period in Con Ed’s system.
Working with an outside technology vendor, Con Ed provides participants with a connector that collects charging data.
Incentives come as e-gift cards from Amazon and others. Participants get cards worth $150 to $200 just for signing up
. For every month they keep the device installed and charge at least once in Con Ed territory, they earn $5, plus an additional 10 cents for every kilowatt-hour they charge between midnight and 8 a.m. And during summertime, when air conditioners are often sucking up electricity, participants can earn another $20 if they don’t charge between 2 and 6 p.m.
Sherry Login, EVs programs manager at Con Ed, estimates someone who drives about 10,000 miles a year and only charges between midnight and 8 a.m. could earn $500 a year, not including the up-front payment.
The point for Con Ed is to manage its electric load so it doesn’t need to add additional power stations. “This is why we’re getting ahead of this,” she said. “We don’t want to be caught off-guard in a few years when all the manufacturers are coming in with plug-in electric versions of all their vehicles.”
Con Ed also is running a vehicle-to-grid pilot
with White Plains in its suburban service area. The school district has purchased five electric buses. During the summer when they are idle, Con Ed will use their batteries to supply about 75 kilowatts to the grid. The first test will be this summer.
Southern California Edison, which operates in the San Diego area, is taking a different approach. Faced with about 150,000 EVs – up from about 20,000 in 2013 – and loads of excess power in the middle of the day due to output from solar systems, it’s focusing on ways to get people to charge away from home during the day. It’s working with signals sent directly to the EV or charger to ramp charging up or down.
In Massachusetts, the utility Eversource, which operates in three New England states, has already run a six-month pilot that provided home charger rebates to about 100 customers. In return, Eversource controlled charging times. Customers could override, but most didn’t, said Charlotte Ancel, Eversource’s director of energy strategy and policy.
“The pilot has the promise that people will just plug it in and forget about it,” Ancel said.
The goal in Massachusetts is to increase EV use – which quadrupled last year alone – without increasing peak demand, said Judith Judson, the state’s Department of Energy Resources commissioner.