EPRI, Utilities, Automakers to Demonstrate Technology Enabling Plug-in Electric Vehicles to Support Grid Reliability

The demonstration will showcase the software system’s demand response capabilities and how it can reduce customers’ electric vehicle charging costs through more effective scheduling.


The Electric Power Research Institute, along with several auto manufacturers, utilities, and regional transmission organizations, will demonstrate an advanced software platform for integrating plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) with smart grid technologies on Thursday, October 16 at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center on 6301 “S” Street. The event is open to the public and will begin at 9 a.m. PT.

Managing the electricity demand of PEVs during charging offers several benefits:

*The vehicle owner can set their PEV to automatically charge during “off-peak” periods of low demand. Annual savings of several hundred dollars are possible.

*The vehicle owner retains ultimate control over their electric vehicle and can decide when to participate and when to opt out.

*Utilities can avoid upgrading transformers and other distribution assets, reducing costs for all customers.

*The software platform can provide information to adjust PEV charging loads up and down to accommodate the intermittent availability of renewable energy sources. This capability is particularly important in California, which requires 33 percent of electric generation to be met by renewables by 2020.

This week’s live demonstration of the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software system, developed by EPRI and Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., will showcase its demand response and load curtailment capabilities through a single standards-based interface. The demonstration will involve eight electric vehicle manufacturers, and attendees will include representatives from the state and federal public agencies involved with clean energy and transportation technologies, as well as the utility and automotive industries.

“This demonstration represents a major milestone toward implementing a common interface communications architecture that meets the needs of utilities and equipment manufacturers while simultaneously benefiting electric vehicle owners and electricity users,” said Dan Bowermaster, manager of EPRI’s Electric Transportation Program.

“We support the growth of clean technologies such as PEVs, and the ability to integrate charging with the next-generation grid is a key challenge we need to meet,” said Doug Kim, director of Advanced Technology at Southern California Edison, which is one of the project’s utility participants. “The adoption of standardized interfaces could provide maximum ease and flexibility for PEV owners.”

Technology Details

The open VGI platform facilitates communication with electric vehicles, enabling utilities to take advantage of the built-in smart charging capabilities and deploy PEVs to support grid reliability, stability, and efficiency. The utility will be able to send requests to the PEV either through a public broadband connection or the vehicle’s on-board control system to turn charging on or off or to reduce the charging power level when conditions on the grid require a load reduction to offset peaks in electricity use.

The process for managing PEV charging will be transparent to the vehicle owner. Vehicle owners maintain ultimate control and would have the option to participate in a demand response and load management program managed either by the utility or by a third party, or opt out altogether.

In the next development phase, the EPRI team will be integrating the PEV communications platform with residential, fleet, and commercial facility energy management systems. This will enable testing of its ability to manage local control scenarios such as demand management for commercial and industrial consumers. Additionally, it will enable interface communications for charging stations and commercial demand response facilitators.

Participating Companies

Utilities and regional transmission organizations participating and supporting the development and demonstration include Austin Energy, CenterPoint Energy Inc., Commonwealth Edison, Con Edison, CPS Energy, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Manitoba Hydro, Northeast Utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric Company, PJM Interconnection LLC, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern Company, Southern California Edison, and Tennessee Valley Authority.

Auto manufacturers are American Honda Motor Co., BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Company, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc., Mitsubishi Motors R & D of America, Inc., and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.

Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. developed the first phase of the system platform for this program.

The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, www.epri.com) conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, affordability, health, safety and the environment. EPRI’s members represent approximately 90 percent of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States, and international participation extends to more than 30 countries. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, NC; Knoxville, Tenn.; and Lenox, Mass.