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Smart Grid Consortium to Develop Smart Grid City; Support for PHEVs with V2G Part of the Design

The Smart Grid Consortium, established in December 2007 by Xcel Energy, will select a mid-size community of approximately 100,000 residents to become a Smart Grid City: a testbed for emerging smart grid technologies and deployment strategies.

Potential benefits include lower bills; smarter energy management; better grid reliability; greater energy efficiency and conservation options; increased use of renewable energy sources; and support for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and intelligent home appliances.

The analog grid has served its purpose for the last half century, but the future requires an integrated, digital smart grid. This next-generation grid will allow customers to better manage their energy consumption while optimizing the grid through real-time generation management and distribution controls.

—Ray Gogel, CAO and vice president of customer and enterprise solutions of Xcel Energy

Current consortium members include Accenture, Current Group, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories and Ventyx.

The selected city will represent the consumer end of the smart grid, with a fully inter-connected system managing the various parts of the grid involved in producing power and delivering it to customers.

A number of technologies will be offered within Smart Grid City, including:

  • Transformation of existing metering infrastructure to a robust, dynamic communications network, providing real time, high-speed, two-way communication throughout the distribution grid.

  • Conversion of substations to “smart” substations capable of remote monitoring, near real-time data and optimized performance.

  • Installation of thousands of in-home control devices and the necessary systems to fully automate home energy use.

  • Integration of infrastructure to support up to 1,000 easily dispatched distributed generation technologies (including plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid technology; battery systems; wind turbines; and solar panels).

Xcel Energy has narrowed the site location for Smart Grid City to several cities in its eight-state service territory. The Consortium will announce the selected city in March 2008 and begin the building phase in April 2008.


Jeff R

It's about time! Our experience during the latest Northern California storm/power outage was that we had to keep calling our power company PG&E to tell them that our lights were still out. More than once they said they thought they had already restored power when they hadn't! I hadn't realized they have no feedback built into their system except customers calling in to report outages. Incredible in the 21st century.

In addition, the ability of a household to see their energy consumption, in real time, on a wireless monitoring device in the living room has shown to reduce electricity consumption by 10-15%. That's a pretty big deal.

We need to get this going nationwide.


This is a major area for development. If we are to consider the "grid" an energy delivery matrix that belongs to the people (eg airwaves, beaches, parks) - then it should function to deliver multiple utility services from multiple vendors. Not a single source vendor. This is a democratic issue that needs to be addressed now.

The "smart grid" designs of most utilities monopolizes the grid itself, the service available on the grid and the source from which the energy is produced. In a truly democratic grid scenario, we would see the proliferation of home, neighborhood, community, resources that service small sectors and sell surpluses back to the grid. The "smart" elements being designed now want to control your thermostat, AC, heat, SOC for your EV, and likely deliver multimedia over the grid link.

One of the major failures of the petroleum era was monopolization of energy by oil. Handing over our grid system to a single government or private entity begs for another monopoly. The grid should be viewed as a publicly owned delivery system that accommodates multiple energy producers. The major "smart" feature should be a way for customers to select a basket of services from a variety of vendors i.e., 100% renewable energy, community PV wind energy, State or Provincial energy, EV overnight charge energy, etc.

The point is these "smart" systems at this stage want mostly to co-opt your energy use. Install central control over your home heating cooling and EV charging and have no competitor to look over their shoulder at. Let's not make the petroleum mistakes all over again. Diversity of energy resources includes distribution and accounting services.


Does V2G mean that the power company can discharge my car battery into the grid? The reason I ask is that sometimes battery life is discussed in terms of # of charge cycles. Will participation in V2G shorten my PHEV battery life?

Harvey D


In principle, you are correct. With many current battery packs, deep charge-discharge cycles will reduce overall battery operational life.

There are ways to limit this costly effect, ie. by conservatively reducing the charge-discharge rate and limiting charge-discharge depth to between 40% and 80%. Without those restrictions, letting your PHEV/BEV batteries in the hands of the power grid operator may not be such a good idea (for you) unless you get proper compensation.

Future batteries will probably accept more abuse with regards to the number of cycles, rates and depth of charge-discharge. Time will tell.


I think private electric utility companies will head in the direction of becoming public utility with this new technology, or, they'll remain private but with more regulation because homeowners will have a larger investment and more important role connected to the grid.

This technological direction seems important because rooftop photovoltiac solar panels afford households the means to recharge plug-in hybrid batteries and run basic household appliances during emergency or grid failure, to avert private utility price gouging, or to simply monitor electricity consumption overall.

Plug-in hybrids, rooftop photovoltiac solar panels, V2G: This is an 'era'. Unlike President Bush who will be leaving soon, signalling the end of an 'error'.

John L.


Your concerns are well-founded. A system which REQUIRES you to discharge your car battery into the grid would be probably be unfair.

I've always thought that a fair V2G system would include time-of-use metering or better, maybe even spot-price metering. Your car would have access to the spot price information while plugged into the grid, and you would set a price at which you agree to sell power back to the grid.

I'm a Californian with a grid-tied solar energy system. On a summer afternoon, I sell surplus power back to the grid at $0.42/kWh. Later that night, I buy power at $0.11/kWh.

Price differences like these can provide economic incentives for V2G car owners to participate in load-leveling, as we hope they would.


One way to address the battery cycle problem of V2G is to have the batteries leased from the service.
As it would them who incured the cost of replacing your batteries they'd be more carefull about discharging them too deeply or too often.


I pay $0.08 per kWh regardless of the time of day.

Additionally, if you have solar you will either need to have an expensive box put in to isolate you from the grid in the event of a general power outage or you are not allowed to use your solar power...[or you can be completely disconnected from the grid]. Not that you would get much out of Solar power around Seattle anyway.

John L.


I don't want this discussion to deviate too far into solar power. I just wanted to use my solar PV + time-of-use meter system to show that there are systems available today which can make V2G economically fair for all the participants.

Having said that -- yes, my PV system shuts off if it doesn't receive an AC sync signal from the grid. I don't have any backup power, but outages are scarce enough here that I decided to put up with them.

My PV system cost me $21,000, after a $10,000 rebate from the state of California. I generate close to 100% of my electrons, but I cover well over 100% of my electricity bill. I went solar before the law changed in California requiring the utilities to pay residential customers -- actually cutting them an annual check -- for surplus power. So, I'm giving away about $200/year in electricity credits. I'm really anxious to upgrade one of my cars to PHEV, in order to use up my excess FREE power.

If I had decided to go with a PV system which could operate in "islanding" mode -- that is, off-grid -- I would have needed the automatic transfer switch you described, a large battery bank in my garage, and a 25% larger PV array. My costs would have been $10,000 higher, mostly in batteries. Those batteries would need to be replaced every six years or so. The state of California does not compensate PV users for their batteries, only for PV modules and inverters.


Batteries for cars need to be light.
Stationary batteries need not be light, and can probably be cheaper.
As people point out, you do not want to many discharge cycles on your precious Phev batteries.
You might be better separating B2G from V2G.
Then you could optimize each solution.
Energy storage is a huge deal, and whoever cracks it will make a lot of money, but please, separate energy storage for cars from energy storage for stationary applications.

Dan Allen

Can somebody explain V2G to me? 1) It seems to me, first of all, that from the points of energy conversion efficiency or of emissions that any gasoline engine is worse than the average utility powerplant and ceratinly worse than the best. Then why would one want cars to be a grid electric energy source? Isn't that exactly the opposite of the idea of PHEVs? 2) Is V2G a concept then to store electicity generated by utilities in electric cars and PHEVs until needed? Aren't there more efficient and less costly storage options, like pumped storage or sodium sulfur batteries compared to car batteries (even if Li-H)? Furthermore, the utility peak is while my car is parked at work in the afternoon in the summer. It is not in my interest to have the battery drained just before I start the drive home. 3) Or is this just a concept to provide residential backup power? In that case a Honda generator for $500 at Home Depot sounds alot simpler.


Dan, I'm no expert in V2G, but I imagining that 1) the power you sell back to the grid from your car comes from power you charged your car battery at night, and not from your gasoline engine. In cases where night power go wasted is wind farm, so V2G is a huge benefit. 2) Yes. That's the idea. Of course there's better way to store excess, but if you have power-storage in cars anyways, why not take advantage of that, esp potentially tens of millions of them, paid for by car consumers instead of a utility co. 3) Residential backup is a 'perk' for having this ability to transfer electrical power both ways, i.e. PHEV or EV.

V2G is a win-win situation, for utilities and cosumers alike, not mentioning all the benefits of electric transportation.


Just to back up occ's comments V2G would only operate if you wanted it to with your vehicle. Why would you want to? Because you would PROFIT even taking into account battery ware and tare from cycling since the cycling would be rapid and SHALLOW.

You bought the battery for transportation. But your use of it would be a small fraction of the day. Since the utility didn't pay money for buying this energy storage capacity they can pay you money for using it that more than compensates you for your ongoing costs (not the capital you used to buy it in the first place of course though).

If you want to learn more about it go here:


There is little benefit to this without a mostly solar powered grid.

V2G discharge at night is not likely due to low demand, low payback versus battery cycling cost.

V2G during the day leaves you with a dead battery. Even at $0.42/KWhr gasoline is still more expensive. So why risk?

Tom Street

Don't understand the dead battery comment above. Other posters thoroughly covered this topic, pointing out that the amount of discharge can be regulated, including a specification that only shallow discharge be allowed in order to prolong battery life.

Regardless, I would like to see an analysis that shows the true cost of providing power to the utility, considering any accelerated depreciation/degradation of the battery that would occur. The price the utility pays would of course have to be higher than this to make it worthwhile for the consumer.


Once again it's ELECTRIC Vehicle to Grid = Ev2G.
By the way, everybody in the know, already realized that Nanosafe batteries by Altairnano(Alti) are the "holy grail" of energy storage.
Do your DD and find out for yourself.......


V2G for peak loads alone won't probably make sense. The equipment needed to make this work costs money - and the amount of kW and kWh that would be available from an average vehicle would be quite low. Also one has to take into account the cost of charged electricity, round-trip losses and battery wear and tear. It would probably be cheaper to build gas turbines for that purpose. However, it could make sense to use them as backup power for the power grid. In this case they would be only used if the grid needs fast reserves to respond to sudden drop of large power plant or transmission line. These are rare occasions, but there needs to be power available all the time for that purpose and it costs to keep those power plants ready. Main source of revenue would be capacity payments just for being there as a backup. This could be combined with the very highest peak load hours when the power companies start to run out of reserves and peak load prices would make it profitable to do peak shaving.

Still, in my opinion, more important than V2G is grid-to-vehicle (G2V). This simply means that the timing of charging the vehicles should be done in a smart manner. If EVs will just start charging when people come home around at six, there will possibly be a new power peak at evenings. It would make more sense to charge the vehicles when electricity is cheaper, which usually is during nighttime. This could change to some extent once larger share of power production comes from variable renewables like wind and solar. Electric vehicles could make the grid more flexible towards these forms of power and all could benefit: the vehicle owners, wind power plant and grid operators.

Most people drive only 10-50 miles per day, which means that for a full electric vehicle with a range of above 200 miles, it wouldn't even be necessary to charge every night, if the electricity prices happen to be high. Of course there needs to be an option to force charging if full charge is required. However, all this is quite dependent on what people are actually willing to do. One problem is that individual car owners could gain only relatively small amounts of money from providing these services to the power grid.


You guys aren't taking my advice! All your economic concerns are covered at the website I mentioned above. Specifically, this paper covers the economics taking into account battery deterioration. At least initially, V2G does not aim to provide peak power but instead spinning reserves and frequency control. Read the paper!


I just heard a story about the power company being able to control your AC and during peak times overriding your settings and you could do nothing about it. Let's be careful that we know what this all means before signing on the bottom line.


Regarding the digital grid, see also RFC3251 of the IETF, "Electricity over IP":

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like this 2002 draft made it through the IETF standards process.

However, some fun does not hurt to remember that electricity has some very special properties which make some ideas (very decentralized production/balancing?) a very costly proposition.

Jack Rosebro

Mick, Harvey D, John L, Dan, occ, etc. - keep in mind that most projected revenue in a V2G system would be paid for ancillary services, i.e. the fact that the vehicle was connected to the grid and available, whether or not any energy transfer occurred. Peak shaving plants make their money in this way today.

Any actual discharge could be controlled - say, "leave me 10 miles of all-electric range" or "leave me 50% SOC." There are many ways to run a V2G system.


I Hate To Do This view of the previos postings.
Owing to time constraints ..
Also note correspondence with Dynamic on demand regarding the following questions and concerns were not responded possibly not worthy?
regards Arnold
I recall a discussion, or was this a short film, regardless (believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see) My breif experience in electronics does not enable me to reverse engineeer this one . But the B-S meter actually runs backward on this so I think it correct.
A simple three legged device (can be placed on the appliance) that monitors the local demand on the AC grid via phase change analysis. The way voltage drops cause brown out so we can measure voltage.
The power companies resonse is as I understand it to try to increase the C.P.S. cycles per second slightly.
So here we have a reflection of the generators status. ie Are we under limit or over limit ?
Cruising or bogged down.

Or looking at it a different way.
If the load increases, the drag on the generator should slow the generator so C.P.S. decreases. Exactly how this can be related to phase angle change I'll leave to those more qualified.
This technology could enable instant point monitoring and silicon decisions in real time.
Maybe: This could be the reason we dont see this equipment developed. It is not so easily price differentiated in this simple version so not of any economic interest.
This is the only reason I can think of.As to why after all these years no mention or inclination.
Much easier to have persons in backrooms contrlling the grid via uplink.
So with a limited knowledge of the science a better understanding of the economics$$$$$?
reverse engineering of Both could be an extemely productive area of research.

Posted by: Arnold | Nov 19, 2007 12:25:02 PM

Arnold if I understand you right you're referring to dynamic demand control:

This is a very cheap and easy win and it's astonishing it hasn't been incorporated into appliances yet given that all you need is another chip that monitors grid frequency. It would probably not save a massive amount but it should smooth demand out quite nicely. It's mostly suited to appliances that operate on a cycle (such as cold appliances).

My guess is that until it's legislated, the manufacturers won't incorporate it because the concept of doing something for the public good appears to be anathema to most corporations.

Posted by: Scatter | Nov 19, 2007 12:45:12 PM

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Hi Arnold,

the way you describe it was known as the the bad method of grid regulation in what used to be the countries behind the iron curtain. I always find it funny how similar the former Soviet Block and US really were, down at the technical level. The western european grid is much more rigid, ie. frequency change to control (compensate) grid load is not allowed - at least not to the same order of magnitude as in the US; these much tighter specs obviously have the side effect, that the EU is much less prone to grid outages (and no seasonal recurring ones on a regular basis)...

Having an "out-of-band" control infrastructure (IP based over telecoms / fiber to the home) to have better monitoring and potentially control has definitely some good side effects. I.e. not only coule G2V and V2G applications be realized, but also some things like having the washing machine, dryer and other power hungy appliances (A/C) run only during times of low-cost electricity (with manual overrides, of course).

BTW: In the netherlands, a commercial operator of a deep-freeze storage recently saved some 100 000's of euros per year by simply using "thermal inertia" - cooling down during the night by 2 or 3 degrees more, and using less high cost electricity during the day.

Similar installations could be installed with any suburban A/C - just provide a large enough body of, say, water in a thermally isolated tank. During the night, cool that material down, and during the day use the stored cold to A/C your home...

Tom Street

Another issue regarding grid to vehicle. My understanding is that a significant part of the electricity generated at night is not utilized and is simply wasted. I have seen estimates that millions of electric vehicles could be charged at night without having to increase the electricity produced at night. Thus, one would be able to reduce the amount of oil required for vehicles while at the same time not increasing the amount of fuel required to power those vehicles.


Everyone seems focused on V2G. If this is effectively shifts exchange of electricity between households and electric companies, I could foresee many households adding solar to the roof, and a bank of FireFly batteries in the garage. Produce electricity during the day, or buy it when cheap at night and sell it back to the grid during the day. Either way, there is incentive for distributed production with homeowners investing in the alternative production capacity.

I don't know the current economics, but if battery and PV technologies continue to advance, a smart grid could make it possible. Less use of fossil fuel, lower war costs. Win-win-win.

Oh, and for you who are concerned about big brother controlling your electricity, many of us already participate in programs with controllers on our air conditioners. It helps smooth demand so less excess capacity is required of my provider -- Xcel.

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