EV Players Try To Untangle Grid Integration Knot

As is often the case with news out of Washington, D.C., this item comes with long acronyms and a thick tangle of bureaucratese. But it also comes with the promise of getting more electric vehicles on our roads, so bear with us as we dissect the PEV Dialogue Group’s report, “An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-In Electric Vehicles in the U.S. Electrical Grid,” to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutious (C2ES).

Last year, the C2ES (a nonpartisan group born out of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change) convened the PEV Dialogue Group (PEV here standing forplug-in electric vehicles), a consortium of corporations, electric service utility providers, state agencies and environmental groups. Now the group has come forward with an outline of how best to coordinate with several different partners so that plug-in cars, when they penetrate the market significantly, don’t wreck local electrical grids.

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image via General Motors

The PEV Dialogue consists of members from the U.S. departments of Energy and Transportation; General Electric; General Motors; the city of Raleigh, North Carolina; the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission; NRG Energy; Natural Resources Defense Council; the University of Delaware; Southern California Edison; and several others who have a stake in the future of personal electric automobiles and utility services.

There range of parties involved in this discussion matches the complex challenges and opportunities that comes with increased at-home vehicle charging.

First, many areas are updating to a so-called smart grid that redirects power during peak usage periods and more easily incorporates wind and solar powercreating huge business opportunities. But the rollout of the smart grid also involves the incorporate of new smart meters, which open the door to more sophisticated pricing schemes and are controversial to some consumer advocacy groups and technical experts.

Next, some say at-home EV charging could be very costly for owners, and additional, expensive infrastructure would be needed to support the cars. The U.S. Department of Energy says the addition of plug-in vehicles to the new grid will not be a problem, but at least one international business group says intelligently, well-timed planning for charging times will be needed to avoid potential problems.

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 BananaStandMedia.com, a free record label, recording studio, and distribution service for independent musicians.

    • Brad Horton

      I charge off peak, for around forty cents!!! My power company has made it cheap and lucrative enough that I definitely charge overnight during off peak hours. The car’s computer makes it ridiculously easy as well. Even on 220 the car doesn’t pull a huge amount of power, I’d say it’s like running the dryer for a few loads of clothes maybe. On 110 it is the same power as a fridge running constantly. It’s really a non issue as long as people aren’t zipping around and opportunity charging all day long. Of course complimenting the car purchase with a small bit of solar offsets that problem.