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.
Director, Business Development & Regulatory Affairs, Generac Grid Services