Pacific Gas & Electric Company: Electric Vehicle Automated Demand Response Study

California is leading the nation in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is at the heart of this growing trend in transportation with about one in five of the 1.9 million EVs in the US within their service territory.[1] Additionally, PG&E has been a market leader in developing and implementing demand response programs designed to reduce electricity consumption during times of high energy use to support grid stability. 

Since 2019, Opinion Dynamics has been working with PG&E to identify technologies to integrate into existing residential automated demand response (ADR) programs. This began with a collaborative stakeholder process to help PG&E identify and vet emerging technologies. Our research found that EV charging controls were an excellent fit for the residential ADR program. Prior to acting on these findings and integrating EV charging controls into the residential ADR program; however, PG&E wanted to know (1) if the technology works, (2) if there is meaningful demand response available, and (3) the optimal incentive level to encourage customer program participation.

As PG&E’s research and evaluation partner, Opinion Dynamics is implementing a study with three key components designed to directly address PG&E’s questions by testing EV charging controls, evaluating DR opportunities, and identifying appropriate incentive levels to maximize participation. The findings from this field test would not only determine if the technology works, but also provide insights that can be leveraged to support grid resiliency in one of the largest utilities in the country. 

Each of these three components is described in more detail below:

Technology Field Test: Conduct an evaluation of charging technologies to determine how they respond to demand response events in the field through a Field Test of 225 EV drivers.

EV Clustering Analysis: Identify distinct segments of PG&E customers that can theoretically offer average, high, low or no potential for a PG&E ADR program incentive through the analysis of over 130,000 existing EV customer interval energy usage data.

Conjoint Study: Identify the right incentive level and program structure to encourage residential EV customers to participate in PG&E’s existing automated demand response program through a conjoint analysis.

California’s commitment to phase out gas-powered cars by 2035, coupled with new federal policies to promote EVs, will only accelerate EV adoption in PG&E’s service territory. Charging all the new EVs will add significant electric load to the grid and that load will need to be managed. This research will add insight into one way utilities can leverage EVs to reduce stress on the grid, which supports all utility customers. Opinion Dynamics is excited to share the results of this study, which will be released in January 2022, as part of the Demand Response Emerging Technologies Program. 

[1] Veloz. “Sales Dashboard.” Updated May 3, 2021.