Smart-Grid EV Charging Getting Volt Test

General Motors and its OnStar subsidiary are starting a pilot program with regional utilities to test the integration of green-car charging and the smart grid, GM announced.

Calling the program the “first real-world smart-grid pilot,” GM said hundreds of utility employees will drive leased Chevy Volts as their everyday vehicles in the third quarter of this year. Using OnStar’s technology, the utilities “will be able to accurately monitor and manage the energy used” by the plug-in hybrids. Data collected “will give the utility deep insight into where and when EVs are charged and demand response, which allows the utility to reduce peak demand by shifting EV charging to non-peak hours,” GM said.

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image via GM

News of GM and OnStar’s partnership to quantify electricity consumption related to EV use is a practical step toward understanding the patterns of drivers, particularly those who charge at home instead of at charging stations. Of course, in the future, smart meters and the data available to consumers could factor greatly into charging habits.

We recently reported on a program in the United Kingdom that will start to provide some of that information to consumers, as well as on efforts in California to protect the unencrypted data of consumers using smart meters. Hopefully, initiatives like these will improve efficiency and knowledge, as one report earlier this year suggested utility providers are unprepared for the potential stress charging new cars could have on infrastructure.

Aaron Colter is a freelance writer and marketing consultant in Portland, Oregon. A graduate of Purdue University, he has worked for the NCAA, Dark Horse Comics, Willamette Week, AOL, The Huffington Post, Top Shelf Productions, DigitalTrends, theMIX agency, SuicideGirls, EarthTechling, d'Errico Studios and others. He is also the co-founder of, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.

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