Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and BMW are working together to test the ability of EV batteries to provide services to the electrical grid. PG&E selected BMW after a competitive solicitation to manage a minimum of 100 kilowatts of electric demand on PG&E’s system, as other large industrial and commercial customers do today as part of the utility’s demand response programs.
Demand response programs offer customers incentives to cut usage during periods of high peak demand, reducing the need to buy expensive fossil-fuel power to meet such spikes in demand. With further refinement, they may help utilities manage the intermittent flow of energy from renewable sources.
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BMW will help PG&E manage power demand in two ways. First, the automaker will create a large energy storage unit, using lithium-ion batteries that were once installed in MINI E demonstration vehicles. These “second life” batteries can absorb surplus electrical energy when demand is low and release it when demand is high.
Second, BMW will enlist up to 100 i3 drivers to take part in the BMW i ChargeForward Program. If PG&E needs to curb customer demand, it will send BMW an alert, indicating how much load to cut. BMW will then signal the telemetry equipment in each participating vehicle, telling it to halt its charging for the duration of the event.
PG&E will pay BMW for these services, as it does other demand response participants. BMW customers participating in the program will receive an upfront incentive to enroll and an ongoing incentive based on their performance in reducing load.
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“We have more than 60,000 electric vehicles in our service area,” said Aaron Johnson, Senior Director of Customer Programs at PG&E. “Collectively, they represent a huge and growing resource that we can potentially tap to provide more flexible, lower cost, and cleaner energy for our customers.”
Source: Pacific Gas and Electric