The PG&E EV ADR Study revealed several considerations and priority areas that the industry as a whole, will need to focus on for optimizing the use of EVs as a grid resource in the next five years. These factors are especially relevant for activating residential EVs in a more dynamic manner such that they can provide a flexible load resource that is responsive to evolving grid needs.
Currently EV charging can be remotely managed at the charger level by controlling Wi-Fi-connected “smart” level 2 chargers or at the vehicle level by gaining access to the onboard “vehicle telematics” communication system which leverages cellular networks to control EV charging.
Managing EV charging through vehicle telematics vs. directly through the charger warrants unique considerations. Results from the technology field test revealed solutions that curtail EV charging through vehicle telematics and through the charger are both effective, however each approach has unique implications.
Reach and cost:
Telematics providers can leverage the existing chargers of all customers who own EVs manufactured by the automakers they partner with , whereas charging providers can only control their own smart L2 chargers. For customers who do not already have smart L2 chargers, telematics provides a lower-cost solution as customers are not required to upgrade their charger.
Some telematics providers can provide additional data points about the vehicle, including location of the vehicle (latitude and longitude) and State of Charge (SOC) of the battery. The SOC variable can provide resource planners with more granular information about the amount of load reduction they can expect to see from each vehicle during a DR event.
Fixed vs. Mobile Resources:
EV chargers are a fixed resource, whereas approaches that leverage vehicle telematics are mobile. Vehicle telematics can also provide utilities with a more holistic view of customers’ EV charging patterns, because this approach captures EV charging data from all locations where EV owners charge whereas stationary chargers only capture data from charging sessions when EV owners charge at home. For the vehicle telematics approach, program managers should develop solutions to address scenarios when a customer is charging away from home when a DR event is called. GPS-based geo-fencing or other technology solutions could allow utilities to monitor and manage the locational impact of vehicle telematics-based DR resources and minimize adverse impacts on customers’ charging experiences.
OEMs ultimately have control over how they design their vehicles and give third parties access to vehicle telematics. Most OEMs are still in an early stage of developing contractual relationships that enable third parties to leverage vehicle telematics for managed charging applications. As such, these third parties may need to adapt to changes in contracting processes and protocols as OEMs gain more contracting experience.
Smart L2 EV chargers require internet connectivity, whereas some vehicle telematics providers can tap into 5G for communications, which allows them to bypass potential internet outages.
Consider developing a protocol and convening a working group to support the development of broader policies that address potential jurisdictional, technological, and vendor overlap in EV DR charging control programs.
Ultimately, individual EVs can only respond to one charging signal at a time; however, overlaps in managed charging program jurisdictions, technology types, vendors, and optimization algorithms can result in competition over control of EV charging. This is likely to result in a range of sub-optimal managed charging outcomes including incentive double-dipping, competing signals, and conflict over-optimization of EV charging resources. We observed some examples of this competition in the field test and the current California market landscape; however, this issue will become more exigent as EV and managed charging adoption increases. Developing a framework or protocol that governs the management of EV resources may be beneficial.
Investigate opportunities to combine elements of DR and more dynamic price signals to adjust EV charging in response to real-time capacity needs while accounting for customer preferences.
Each of the vendors in this study have demonstrated the capabilities to both call DR events and manage EV charging on a more dynamic level in response to price signals. In addition, our review of existing DR programs reveals utilities are moving to more dynamic managed charging program designs, enabling them to adjust EV charging in response to real-time capacity needs. This type of approach could allow utilities to leverage the same pool of customers for both DR and managed charging, thus expanding the eligible customer population and eliminating potential issues (e.g., requiring customers to enroll in two different programs or customer confusion around differing eligibility requirements for each program). Similarly, some managed charging vendors are building out solutions that incorporate customer charging patterns and other data streams to minimize the impact of DR events on each customer. As most PG&E EV owners expressed concern that their car wouldn’t be ready when needed if they allowed PG&E to adjust their charging, utilities may also want to investigate opportunities to incorporate customer preference data into future EV DR program designs.
There are opportunities for utilities to develop strategies to help managed charging program participants deal with the impacts of Public Power Safety Shutoffs (PSPS).
In the short run, utilities should consider developing marketing, education, and outreach strategies to notify EV owners to charge their vehicles ahead of a PSPS. In the long run, consider partnering with vendors to incorporate a PSPS warning system, similar to the Tesla Storm Warning, into future managed charging programs that would override EV owners’ charging schedules to automatically charge their EVs in the hours prior to a PSPS event, in a staggered manner that does not overwhelm the distribution system. This would likely be more feasible to deploy for more mature managed charging programs, when the cost of developing this feature could be spread across many customers. In the future, Vehicle to Grid or Vehicle to Building technologies could also allow EV owners to power their homes using their EVs during a PSPS outage.
Dive Deeper into the data
Our clients face unique challenges, and our staff at Opinion Dynamics are always looking for unique ways to tackle these challenges and be at the forefront of problem-solving solutions. Our resident experts, Hilary Polis and Jordan Folks offer deeper insight with their companion pieces spotlighted below. The full report is also available via PDF download.
You already have my thermostat, now you want my car too? By Hilary Polis
Designing EV DR Incentives. Presentation by Jordan Folks
Insights Highlighted: A dynamic look at Ev managed charging and grid resource potential
Insights Highlighted: A dynamic look at customers’ perceptions of EV managed charging