Electric vehicles both a challenge and opportunity to the grid


Stephen G. Whitley,
President & CEO,
Rennselaer, NY, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — March 25, 2010 – With an estimated one million plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) potentially to be deployed in North America within a five- to ten-year timeframe, this poses a challenge to the electricity grid while also offering unique opportunities, according to a new study.

With the charging of the PEVs requiring to be staggered to reduce the potential negative impact on electric load, the management of charging, at a minimum, could limit the impact of new PEV loads, and, at its best, provide new resources.

The study, which was undertaken by Kema for the ISO/RTC Council (IRC), finds that of the one million projected PEVs, more than 684,000 are likely to be located in regions served by the Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs). If these were to be charged simultaneously they could add electric load of 3,785 MW. However, if charging were staggered over an eight-hour period the load would increase by about one-fifth that total, or 819 MW, and by less than 546 MW if over a 12-hour period.

The study suggests that initially at least sales of PEVs will “cluster” on the West Coast and Northeast and be heavily concentrated in large urban areas. Thus major cities appear to offer the greatest opportunity for load management and ISO/RTC products.

Initially several products or services are recommended for deployment based on a combination of their potential usefulness to the ISO/RTO and the likely response from aggregators and end consumers. These include emergency load curtailment, dynamic pricing, and enhanced aggregation. As the PEV penetration increases and additional infrastructure is installed, additional market products that can provide value to the ISO/RTOs and aggregators are regulation and reserves.

The study notes that the integration of PEV resources into existing ISO/RTO systems will require changes to market rules and investments in IT infrastructure. This will enable ISO/RTOs to meet the unique needs of PEV resources and facilitate commonality across ISO/RTO systems, which is important for a mobile resource.

The additional costs of integrating PEVs into ISO/RTO markets and systems are estimated at $150,000 up in one-time incremental costs to upgrade systems and software and support connectivity between the aggregator and ISO/RTO, and $6,400 up in annual costs for secure communications and staff labor.

“Plug-in electric vehicles represent a significant new set of power users that grid operators must prepare to serve,” said Stephen G. Whitley, 2010 IRC chairman and president and CEO of the New York ISO. “PEVs also might lead to game changing innovations in energy distribution and smart grid technology that could enhance grid management and electric system reliability.”

The ISO/RTC Council represents the 10 ISOs and RTOs in North America, which collectively serve two-thirds of electricity consumers in the U.S. and more than 50 percent of Canada’s population.