PG&E kickstarts 2nd phase of EV pilot with BMW


The EV pilot aims to ensure PG&E achieves a stable grid network by using technology to help EV owners avoid charging during peak power demand periods.

Under the pilot, BMW will equip some 250 BMWi3, BMWi8 and iPerfomance drivers with its ConnectedDrive technology.

The ConnectedDrive solution will help EV drivers locate smart charging stations participating under the pilot within PG&E’s service territory in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In addition, the ChargeForward smartphone app will be deployed under the pilot to provide EV drivers with grid status data when charging their vehicles.

The near real-time grid status data provided to EV drivers will help them in decision making including whether they should continue charging their vehicles or if they should opt out.

[quote] In case energy demand is high and the EV owner does not opt out of charging, the ChargeForward app will remotely order the EV to provide energy back to the grid to meet the demand of the network.

In a combined statement, BMW and PG&E said the pilot aims to optimise “customer charging across multiple charging events, shifting charging across grid locations and adjusting charging according to the level of renewables on the grid.”

The pilot is expected to help PG&E increase its clean energy portfolio and improve the adoption of EVs.

Participating customers of PG&E and owners of BMW EVs will earn up to $900 during the 24-month timeline of the pilot.

The trial will be funded by a grant won by BMW from the California Energy Commission.

EV pilot and grid benefits

During the first phase of the pilot, which started in July 2015 through to December 2016, BMW developed and deployed multiple EV communication technologies to help some 100 customers of PG&E with EVs to shift their smart charging from peak periods to off-peak periods.

The demand response EV charging pilot is helping PG&E to ensure grid reliability, reduce carbon emissions and help its customers lower their energy costs.

Under the first phase of the EV pilot, PG&E sends orders to BMW for energy usage reductions by EV owners of up to 100KW during demand response periods.

Since the launch of the first phase:

  • 192 demand response events have occurred between July 2015 and October, 2016
  • By August 2016, the pilot avoided the usage of 19,000KW of energy capacity during peak periods
  • 92% of participating EV owners highlighted their satisfaction with the pilot and 86% said they would recommend it to family and friends.
  • 94% of DR events communicated to BMW by PG&E achieved the energy reduction target of 100KW.

Aaron Johnson, vice president of Customer Energy Solutions at PG&E, reiterated:  “We have more than 100,000 electric vehicles in PG&E’s service area of Northern and Central California. Through this pilot with BMW, we’ve learned that these drivers present a growing resource that want to be part of building our clean energy future.” [PG&E and SolarCity partner to boost grid stability]


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Nicholas Nhede is an experienced energy sector writer based in Clarion Event's Cape Town office. He has been writing for Smart Energy International’s print and online media platforms since 2015, on topics including metering, smart grids, renewable energy, the Internet of Things, distributed energy resources and smart cities. Originally from Zimbabwe, Nicholas holds a diploma in Journalism and Communication Studies. Nicholas has a passion for how technology can be used to accelerate the energy transition and combat climate change.