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Automated Charging: Do We Have to Settle the EVSE vs. Telematics Debate?

The Generac Grid Services’ blog has taken a deep dive into our three-pronged approach to electric vehicle (EV) charging solutions in recent months. Recognizing a need to understand charging behavior, we showcased the value of Charging Insights programs. Next, we met the industry where many are by exploring the value of behavioral charging programs. Our last stop in this series is the automation of smart charging, and much like Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (odd reference for mid-summer, I know), we’re learning that the fate of these programs’ design is not yet sealed.

By Generac Grid Services’ definition, automated smart charging consists of controlling and optimizing EV charging to achieve peak load management and other grid objectives – automatically – via dispatch from a distributed energy resource (DER) orchestration platform like Concerto™.


In this blog, I’ll explore the two flavors of automated smart charging programs: those enabled by smart EV chargers (or EV supply equipment, EVSE) and those leveraging direct-to-vehicle telematics control. To cut to the chase, I’ll explore why Generac Grid Services sees a promising future for both program types.

Smart Charging Leveraging Level II EVSE

Generac Grid Services witnessed early adoption of automated smart charging programs for residential and other light-duty vehicle customers leveraging a smart EV charger and for good reason.

  • Slow charging from Level I EVSE may encourage customers to purchase a smart charger regardless of grid service offerings; rebate programs through utility marketplaces and other local programs reduce this system upgrade cost.
  • Additionally, some utilities may leverage those marketplaces to facilitate the purchase of devices pre-approved or pre-enrolled in rewards programs, simplifying the customer journey.
  • Participants can leverage their charger for simple demand response (or V1G) grid services applications regardless of their vehicle manufacturer.
  • Charging control occurs at a specified location; thus, no remote dispatch can occur if the vehicle is not plugged in at the “home” (or otherwise enrolled) EV charger. This control specificity boosts participants’ ability to manage their program involvement.

Telematics Offers a Direct Way

Alongside smart EVSE control, today’s proliferation of control via EV telematics communications cannot go unnoticed. Keeping a customer-first mindset, there are good reasons why these programs make sense:

  • Participants feel less friction by leveraging their EV’s smart app rather than an additional application or system to engage in a grid services program.
  • While some EV drivers may need to pay a subscription fee to unlock the telematics offerings with their compatible vehicles, rewards from grid services programs can help to reduce these costs.
  • Participation is not contingent on an approved Level II smart charger; thus, customers benefit from program participation while relying on the charger that best fits their needs.
  • Participation might occur across a given territory, letting customers participate in events when charging locally, but away from home.
  • Data available from telematics provides a holistic picture of the driving + charging experience. Where data-sharing agreements allow, participants and their utility can gain a strong understanding of charging habits relative to daily driving needs, potentially supporting broader rate and program portfolio design.

Which way will the industry go?…

…Or, put better, does the industry have to decide? I presume a preference could ultimately emerge as automated charging programs move past the pilot stage and engage more than adventurous early adopters. Still, I suspect we won’t know for a while. This understanding is precisely why Generac Grid Services is positioning itself to support energy companies and their partners looking to offer these programs in both ways.

Right now, individuals who are most likely to engage are those seeking out the functionality in their EV charger’s mobile application or opening an email push from their vehicle manufacturer. These early adopters will be the influencers that, pending a positive experience, will recruit their neighbors to join the program as EV adoption grows. Regardless of the automated smart charging program type, let’s ensure that today’s participants have the best experience possible. After all, in keeping with customer choice, having both EVSE and telematics program options available will maximize customer satisfaction and available capacity.


 Jessie Peters

Senior Manager, Marketing


Resiliency in the Eye of the Hurricane

June 1st marks the start of hurricane season, with NOAA forecasting between 12 and 17 named storms this year. From Texas around the Gulf, through Florida, and up toward Maine, coastal communities are preparing for major storms and the damage they may bring through November.

Unfortunately, residents outside those communities likely won’t get off scot-free either; the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) anticipates that two-thirds of the country is at risk of rolling blackouts over this summer season. Backup power will be essential for residents to remain resilient in the face of severe storms and other extreme weather over the coming months – and Generac Grid Services is on standby to support.

Energy Alliance Program

Generac’s Energy Alliance Program (EAP) is a partnership opportunity made available to munis, co-ops and IOUs that enables them to access premium product pricing and customer support, and that creates the opportunity to provide value-added services to end customers. Three flavors of the program allow utility partners to offer their customers an enhanced experience in the procurement and ownership of backup power and other distributed energy resource products.

Marketing Partners – gain access to educational materials to teach their members or customers about the resiliency and energy management benefits of Generac products
Equipment Partners – receive preferred pricing by purchasing equipment directly from Generac and gain access to the company’s network of almost 10,000 dealers
Lifecycle Partners – leverage all the abovementioned benefits while adding in installation and ongoing maintenance services to increase the value of the products for customers

Generac Grid Services then works with these partners to identify and operationalize monetization opportunities for backup power devices to provide support to the grid and reduce the total cost of ownership for purchasers. Devices always serve their primary purpose of resiliency first but have the opportunity to earn revenue for use outside of outage hours.

Grid Resiliency as a Service

With a growing Smart Grid Ready install base, utilities of all sizes can take advantage of the capacity often sitting idle within their territories and help their members and customers unlock monetization solutions. By engaging customers to agree to provide capacity when the grid is experiencing strain, energy companies will be able to create an additional defensive layer between normal operations and rolling blackouts. Generac Grid Services will work with grid operators to identify program parameters that will maintain participant satisfaction while providing real reliability value to the broader customer base.

The need to maintain customer satisfaction, however, remains paramount. Thus, utilities must identify the pros and cons of calling on distinct resource types in each situation. For example, grid operators should avoid drawing down backup sources like stored battery energy before a storm or another severe weather event. However, batteries make great daily dispatch options to reduce system peaks absent severe weather. On the flip side, standby generation engines’ noise can be somewhat disruptive. Therefore, rather than calling on generators for daily dispatch, these devices should be leveraged as emergency capacity sources.

It’s Not Too Late

Though hurricane season is officially in full swing, it’s not too late to bring resiliency solutions to your territory with Generac. The Energy Alliance Program sign-up is simple and free of charge, so you can start reaping the rewards for your members and customers immediately.

Additionally, unlike in previous seasons, Generac Grid Services has backup power products stocked and ready to ship to the communities that need them most. Purchase trends of Generac products tend to spike following an extreme weather event. Pairing Energy Alliance Program benefits with short time-to-installation will help customers proactively ensure that their households keep access to the electricity they need most during an outage.

Jonathan ‘J.T.’ Thompson
SVP, Sales, Generac Grid Services

Driving Meaningful EV Charging Behavior

Generac Grid Services takes a three-pronged approach to electric vehicle (EV) program design. Our goal is to serve our customers at their unique points in their respective transportation electrification journeys and evolve the solution as their needs – and their end customers’ needs – change. The last blog in this three-part mini-series discussed the value of monitoring new load from EVs and how utilities can benefit from understanding when, where and how much EV charging takes place. This blog will explore how to turn the batteries into a grid resource through behavioral programs and synthetic TOU rates.

The underpinning logic of behavioral load management is using financial incentives, social norming or providing information to encourage beneficial charging habits. Behavioral programs differ from active load control or automated smart charging programs where a DRMS, DERMS or equivalent remotely halts charging directly through the vehicle or a charging station.

Carrots Rather than Sticks

Financial incentives are a strategic tool in manual demand management programs, and several flavors are available to encourage EV drivers to practice grid-friendly charging behavior.

  • Ongoing Bill Credits: A flat rate, cadenced incentive for not charging during on-peak periods; these often come as a monthly reduction on a customer’s bill. For example, if a utility sets a peak period from 5-9 PM, participants may receive a monthly bill discount for avoiding vehicle charges between those hours.
  • Synthetic TOU: A closely related incentive structure is a variable incentive that pays customers a $/kWh rate for charging during off-peak periods. An example is a scenario where the utility pays a customer $0.10/kWh for every kWh they charge during a designated charging window.
  • Off-bill Incentives: Paying an off-bill incentive (such as a PayPal disbursement or gift card) is a flexible method for encouraging customers to charge their EV when it is most beneficial for the grid. The flexibility of an off-bill incentive allows the utility to adjust the parameters of managed charging programs as they gain more information about how EV charging affects the distribution grid.

Learning from the Home Energy Report

Beyond financial incentives, social norming is a well-known strategy frequently employed in energy efficiency programs to encourage customers to act more like their most efficient neighbors. This strategy can be paired with financial incentives but has a couple of distinct components:

  • Customer Education: Charging guidance that shows customers how much money they have saved in fuel and maintenance costs compared relative to if they were operating an internal combustion engine vehicle helps reinforce good behavior, as does showing customers how much they have saved/gained by charging during off-peak hours compared to on-peak hours.
  • Neighbor Comparisons: A social norming strategy might also involve a neighbor comparison, whereby an individual’s charging behavior is compared to a neighbor sample set to align users on charging best practices.


Another benefit of behavioral load management programs is that they are more inclusive than automated programs. Behavioral load management does not require control through direct-to-vehicle telematics or a smart charger. This makes the programs more inclusive, as not all drivers have smart chargers and not all vehicles have onboard telematics. Sometimes those EVs that do have telematics technical capabilities require the customer to pay a monthly subscription fee, thus reducing the population of drivers qualified for automatic smart charging.

Keeping Rates Flexible

Behavioral programs and synthetic rates are distinct from true TOU, which can be prescriptive and broadly sweeping. As utilities look to develop longer-term EV strategies, synthetic programs can provide the planning tools, data and flexibility to build programs that engage drivers while providing meaningful capacity or storage during periods of high renewable generation.

Generac Grid Services is proud to partner with utilities to design programs that drive long-lasting behavior change in support of the grid. From customer acquisition through our Smart EV Rewards portal through measurement, verification and incentives disbursement, we work to get our customers and their customers the information they need to make educated, meaningful EV charging decisions. Moreover, we view EVs as just one distributed energy resource in our customers’ toolbox to optimize power flows on the distribution grid, thus supporting EV programs alone or alongside the engagement of other asset types.

 Jessie Peters

Senior Manager, Marketing


Defining DERMS Once & For All

Originally posted on Zpryme

Just a few years ago, the distributed energy resource (DER) corner of the internet was rife with references to what a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) is and is not. Organizations like Smart Electric Power Alliance set out to define DERMS with initiatives that remain ongoing. Today, requests for information and conversations with our industry peers indicate that while confusion around defining DERMS still exists, the market is beginning to coalesce around a common understanding.

Based on market insights, Generac Grid Services will be using the following definition of DERMS:

Software used to manage the reliability of the distribution grid as new loads come online (i.e., EV charging, electric heat/water, battery storage) in conjunction with higher levels of connected solar, wind and storage also installed at the grid edge (front-of- or behind-the-meter) to better manage voltage and power flows of the delivery system. It can also reduce the impact of traditional fossil fuel baseload and peaking generation being taken offline.

The Grid Services team has carefully crafted this definition based on system elements that we feel vendors and our utility customers will all agree make up a DERMS.

Components of a DERMS – an Inexhaustive List

Breaking down a DERMS is not a simple exercise as it requires consideration for all potential use cases of the platform. Further, the DERMS is just one system in an interconnected enterprise of utility systems responsible for keeping the grid efficient and stable. At face value, four defining features of a DERMS include:

  • Provides operational insight and control of distribution connected behind-the-meter and front-of-meter assets in managing the grid, extending the distribution management system.
  • Has a distinct role from the ADMS, despite likely (but not mandatory) integration to the (A)DMS system, with use cases highly dependent on a given DER’s grid location and the parameters on the lines that supply it. Recognizes and has mechanisms to manage changing locations, for example, based on network switching actions or the mobile aspect of EVs.
  • Must support advanced distribution optimization use cases, including autonomous frequency correction, active power control against an automatic generation control (AGC) signal, real power (watts) and reactive power (VARs) control, and voltage management and optimization.
  • Primarily serves the distribution operations or power operations team and is implemented based on the requirements these groups provide. May engage and benefit demand-side management programming teams as stakeholders when not in use for reliability needs.

What a DERMS is Not

Much of the DERMS-related confusion that Generac Grid Services encounters today surrounds developing and deploying DER programs to serve peak load management use cases. These programs are primarily driven by pairing a DRMS with additional programmatic services to deliver an end-to-end solution. Non-DERMS elements of a DRMS-based device program include the following:

  • Primarily serves demand-side management organizations in regulated utilities, non-regulated utilities, and energy retailers.
  • Leverages almost exclusively demand response functionality without the abovementioned frequency, active power, reactive power, or voltage control.
  • Geared heavily toward engagement services and software to support program design, customer acquisition and enrollment, and other end customer communications.
  • Absence of integration with front-of-the meter or distribution system operator assets.

Clearing Up the Confusion

The above comparisons then beg the question of where the sources of confusion between DERMS, DRMS, or DRMS-based device programs lie. The answer may result from lingering, inconsistent industry terminology beyond just that of DERMS. Perhaps two additional definitions we use will help to solidify the positioning:

DRMS: Software that enables the reduction of load over a defined area, generally based on specific Program rules. Includes cradle-to-grave capabilities from signup, management, dispatch, measurement and verification, reward or incentive payment and unenrollment.


DRMS-based Program: DRMS software that includes the design of the program and may also include the marketing, sale, logistics and installation of hardware that is admissible into the Program, usually at a deep discount, free, or provided with installation services.

Generac Grid Services is confident that leveraging these definitions will help to clear up the confusion in the great DERMS vs. DRMS debate. We welcome collaborative discussions with our peer vendors in the industry to help us put forth a standard definition for our utility partners. And, based on these definitions we ask our utility colleagues, “of the available tools available in the market, which one best fits your current and future needs?”


Eric Young
VP, Industry Solutions, Generac Grid Services

The Value of Monitoring When, Where and How Much EVs Charge


Generac Grid Services provides end-to-end electric vehicle (EV) load management solutions that aim to meet utilities and other energy companies wherever they are in their territory’s electrification journey. Industry discussions have identified three major programming categories: Charging Insights & Monitoring, Behavioral and Rate-aware Programs, and Automated Smart Charging via direct load control. This blog is the first in a three-part series that discusses the value that each of these programming categories brings to utilities. The first step is to know where, when and how much EVs are charging.

Fueling the EV Transition, Reliably

Electric demand from EVs is set to accelerate, driven by public policy funding for public charging through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) program and fueled by electric vehicle tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act. For utilities, however, the rapid proliferation of EVs can cause blind spots in managing daily operations of the grid and planning for future grid needs. This challenge results because utilities typically do not require customers with electric vehicles and a Level II charger to undergo an interconnection review process.

One way to overcome this lack of visibility is to have customers opt-in to share their charging data directly with their utility. Collecting charging data from a connected car device that plugs into a vehicle’s onboard diagnostic port or directly through the vehicle’s telematics can provide invaluable insights. Fundamentally, these data allow utilities to better understand when, where, and how much customers charge EVs. Charging insights underpin analyses that enable utilities to make more educated operational decisions and inform equipment replacement cycles, catching potential issues before they lead to more significant problems.

Enhanced Program Design

Understanding when customers typically charge is the first step to helping a utility design the appropriate programmatic response. For example, if data monitoring reveals that charging activity is coincident with local or system peaks, time of use (TOU) rates or off-bill incentives to encourage off-peak charging may be two of the more effective corrective actions. From a program design perspective, data from the monitoring program can help define the proper times to set as “on peak” times to pay an incentive or set a rate.

Improved Situational Awareness

Understanding where customers are charging and how much they are charging increases awareness for system operators and planners. Unforeseen or unexpected load pockets may be explained with an EV charge monitoring program. If a system operator knows where EV load is concentrated, it may be possible to recommend alternative solutions to problems such as equipment failure due to thermal overloads with managed charging programs instead of traditional infrastructure upgrades. However, situational awareness of where the flexible EV load is and how much is available is a prerequisite to considering alternative approaches to infrastructure upgrades.

Increased Uptime & Reliability

From a forward-looking system planning perspective, combining EV load data with AMI data can help inform utility predictive equipment health programs, ultimately leading to increased uptime and reliability metrics. If EV load monitoring shows clustering of EVs in certain areas, increasing the size of transformers being replaced in that area with a larger size may be preferable. For example, changing the standard procedure to change out 25 kVA transformers with 50 kVA transformers in areas with EV concentrations will likely prevent issues before they crop up. Data monitoring today also sets the stage for a future when vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology becomes more pervasive, letting grid operators know how much flexible EV capacity there is in a given area.

Collecting data is the first step in identifying potential issues and laying the groundwork for subsequent interventions to influence charging patterns, such as developing a TOU rate or other incentive-based load management program. Vehicle monitoring and direct load control programs have similar goals in trying to prevent more minor issues before they become bigger challenges and lead to outages or other adverse outcomes.

Michael Goldman
Director, Business Development & Regulatory Affairs, Generac Grid Services