Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) is expanding the range of its plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) research program as one of its regional utility partners, Progress Energy, expands its role by adding a Ford Escape PHEV to its Florida operations. Ford and Progress Energy made the announcement today at the University of Central Florida’s Solar Smart Grid in Orlando.
Progress Energy is one of a dozen North American energy companies working with Ford to advance the commercialization of electric vehicles under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy. Progress Energy joined the research program in February 2009 when it announced that it would road-test a Ford Escape PHEV in Raleigh, N.C.
Ford was the first automotive manufacturer to partner with the utility industry in a shared effort to understand all of the issues related to PHEV technology and its interconnectivity with the electric grid. Ford started the program in mid-2007 when it formed its first utility partnership with Southern California Edison.
Ford’s utility partners have already conducted more than 160,000 miles of road testing with a fleet of 21 Escape PHEVs. These rechargeable vehicles use a combination of pure electric power and a gasoline engine to achieve up to 120 mpg.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles offer several benefits, including:
* Reduced dependency on petroleum and increased energy independence
* Reduced environmental impact through reductions in greenhouse gas emissions
* Potential consumer cost savings on energy/fuel costs
"This PHEV research is helping Ford and our utility partners to better understand the issues related to connectivity between vehicles and the electric grid," said Greg Frenette, Ford manager, Global Electrified Fleets. "We’re delighted that Progress Energy is expanding its participation to include the Sunshine State."
Plugging in to the ‘smart’ grid
In Florida, Progress Energy will road-test a 2010 Escape PHEV equipped with one of the industry’s first vehicle-to-electric "smart" grid communications and control systems. The ultimate goal of this new technology is to enable plug-in electric vehicles to interface with the electric grid and to allow the vehicle operator to determine when and for how long to recharge the vehicle, potentially enabling the user to take advantage of lower, off-peak utility rates.
Florida is a natural fit for Ford’s PHEV research program. According to the recently released Metro Orlando Cleantech Study, the University of Central Florida and the Orlando region are steadily becoming a hotbed for renewable energy and alternative fuel endeavors, as well as for a variety of research and development initiatives aimed at deploying more cost-efficient, environmentally compatible power.
"Progress Energy is committed to helping Ford pave the way for electric transportation and confronting the new energy realities of evolving energy demand, global climate change and rising fuel costs," said Rob Caldwell, vice president of Efficiency and Innovative Technology at Progress Energy.
Partners in progress
In addition to Progress Energy, Ford’s PHEV research partners include:
* Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
* U.S. Department of Energy
* Southern California Edison
* New York Power Authority
* Consolidated Edison of New York
* American Electric Power of Columbus, Ohio
* Alabama Power of Birmingham, Ala.; and its parent, Atlanta-based Southern Company
* DTE Energy of Detroit
* National Grid of Waltham, Mass.
* Pepco Holdings
* New York State Energy and Research Development Authority
* Hydro-Québec, the largest electricity generator in Canada
The Electric Power Research Institute, which is providing financial and logistical support for the research, formed the collaboration of utilities for the program in 2008. This allows EPRI and Ford to study regional differences and the impact on the electric grid as well as the vehicles.
"Bringing additional utilities and states on board raises the program to a new level," said Arshad Mansoor, EPRI vice president of Power Delivery and Markets. "We expect the expansion of the program’s participants will result in more robust data, ultimately helping automakers and utilities develop an efficient, convenient infrastructure and a seamless interface between the road and the power grid."
Ford Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich., manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about 198,000 employees and about 90 plants worldwide, the company’s automotive brands include Ford, Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo. The company provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company.
Progress Energy (NYSE: PGN), headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., is a Fortune 500 energy company with more than 22,000 megawatts of generation capacity and $9 billion in annual revenues. Progress Energy includes two major electric utilities that serve approximately 3.1 million customers in the Carolinas and Florida. The company has earned the Edison Electric Institute’s Edison Award, the industry’s highest honor, in recognition of its operational excellence, and was the first utility to receive the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates Founder’s Award for customer service. The company is pursuing a balanced strategy for a secure energy future, which includes aggressive energy-efficiency programs, investments in renewable energy technologies and a state-of-the-art electricity system. Progress Energy celebrated a century of service in 2008. Visit the company’s Web site at www.progress-energy.com.
The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) conducts research and development on technology, operations and the environment for the global electric power industry. As an independent, non-profit organization, EPRI brings together its members, the institute’s scientists of research to meet challenges in electricity generation, delivery and use, including health, safety and the environment. EPRI’s members represent more than 90 percent of the electricity generated in the United States, and international participation extends to 40 countries. EPRI has major offices and laboratories in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.