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MPSC Initiates Pilot Program to Integrate PHEVs into the Electric Grid

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) initiated a pilot program designed to integrate plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) into Michigan’s electric grid. The pilot program will be part of the MPSC’s ongoing smart grid collaborative, established in 2007.

The Commission notes that achieving a high penetration of PHEVs that retains the stability of the electric grid is dependent on smart grid infrastructure research and development. Therefore, the MPSC is requiring all regulated electric distribution companies to participate in the smart grid collaborative, expanded by the order to include PHEV pilot projects. The MPSC encourages other interested parties to participate as well.

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability has identified seven principal characteristics of a smart electric grid:

  1. Self-Healing: A grid able to rapidly detect, analyze, respond, and restore from perturbations.

  2. Empower and Incorporate the Consumer: A grid able to incorporate consumer equipment and behavior.

  3. Tolerant of a Security Attack: A grid that mitigates and stands resilient to physical and cyber security attack.

  4. Provides Power Quality Needed by 21st Century Users: A grid that provides a quality of power consistent with consumer and industry needs.

  5. Accommodates a Wide Variety of Generation Options: A grid that allows and takes advantage of a wide variety of local and regional generation technologies (including green power).

  6. Fully Enables Electricity Markets: A grid that fully enables maturing electricity markets.

  7. Optimizes Asset Utilization: A grid that employs IT and monitoring technologies to continually optimize its capital assets while minimizing operations and maintenance costs (O&M) costs

To ensure that Michigan makes use of emerging technologies that enable the smart grid, the MSPC ordered its staff in April 2007 to convene a collaborative process to monitor national smart power grid infrastructure developments. When options appear cost-effective and practical to implement, the MPSC staff has been directed to establish evaluation criteria and standards that would trigger pilot programs or broader deployment in Michigan.

The PHEV aspect of the MSPC smart grid collaborative will include:

  • Using actual vehicles, some of which incorporate V2G systems, if and when available;

  • Analyzing the environmental effects in Michigan of PHEVs at low, medium and high levels of adoption, with and without V2G capability;

  • Analyzing the effect of PHEVs on Michigan utility and regional electric system load duration curves and the effect of PHEV market penetration on generation mix and capacity requirements;

  • Analyzing the technical issues related to the participation of V2G in the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operators’ ancillary services market; and

  • Analyzing meter and time-based pricing policies for electricity used to charge electric vehicles.

The order expanding the smart grid collaborative to include PHEV projects directs the MPSC staff to submit annual reports on the status of the PHEV collaborative, with the first report due by June 30, 2009. Interim reports may be filed, as appropriate.

The Commission encourages transmission providers, customers and customer groups, Michigan universities and colleges, automotive manufacturers and suppliers, and other electric industry stakeholders to participate in the collaborative.

As the automotive leader of the world, Michigan is uniquely equipped to lead the effort to integrate plug-in hybrid vehicles into its electric grid. The widespread adoption of PHEVs has the potential to significantly reduce gasoline consumption, while reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions produced in the state.

The success of plug-in hybrid vehicles is dependent on the deployment of intelligent grid technology. So, this represents a unique opportunity for Michigan’s electric utilities to expand sales, without contributing to system peak, while simultaneously reducing the overall level of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and utility sectors.

—MPSC Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu, a member of the Smart Grid Collaborative effort between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)



Harvey D

This is a worthwhile exercise. Since power grids often cross States-Provincial borders, a national approach will be required to arrive at the most stable, reliable and efficient power grid(s), specially when transportation and HVAC electrification will multiply.

When more and more Solar and Wind (variable) energy will be fed into power grids, enlarged grids (with all their complexity and potential downfalls) will become a necessity. This will force higher compatibility and standardized design.

All States and Canadian Provinces electrical energy suppliers and distributors should participate.

Shouldn't the central governments or agencies be involved?

John Taylor

This is still pushing the "hydrogen economy" despite the fact that there is no economy in hydrogen, just net conversion losses.

We need to see some wind and solar together with battery storage for an effective grid.


John: please explain. I don't see anything in the article about hydrogen, unless this is an experiment designed to fail.

stan peterson

Fine experiments.

But it will not make the very intermittent and very marginally efficient "official renew-ables" any more successful. They all would be considered Peaking installations at most.

There is ample Peaking Plant built in the US in the last twenty years. It was about the only electric generation allowed to be constructed. There is even plenty of modern Peaking installations, (of Gas turbine generation) that are mothballed.

What is needed is a massive rebuilding and also an expansion of our antiquated base load generation. Of the renew-ables choices available, only Hydro would qualify as base load generation if it were now considered to be an "official renew-able". Unfortunately, there is little new locations meriting Hydro construction, in the USA.

And Hydro is now deemed not to be an official renew-able by the nincompoops. Apparently rain is a one time thing that does not reoccur. Apparently, water does not flow downhill into rivers and reservoirs.

The Nincompoops would rather tear down what Hydro we have than add any new Hydro-generation.


We need standards for signalling the status of the grid.
Ideally, these would be global, or at least Eu or US (or NAFTA) wide.
Thus, you could signal: "Lots of excess power", or power cost is now Xcents / KhW, or whatever, to tell vehicles when to charge.

An ideal PHEV would know how much it as expected to drive tomorrow, the current electricity cost and the expected price every hour until it HAD to start charging.

Thus, it might know that it needed 10 KwH by 8 am, and that, based on weather etc, the best time to start charging would be from 2 - 5 am when the price could be expected to be 6 cents / KwH.

This would be better than just kicking off a charge when the night rate starts.

You could do a LOT of load balancing if you could work out the minimum amount of information a system needed to recharge itself.

The same would apply to other time non critical tasks such as dish and clothes washing, and water heating.

The main thing would be to prevent large scale hacking.
What you don't want is someone broadcasting that power is 2 cents / KwH at 5.30 pm.


This would amply allow an increase in renewables from a theoretical usage of 20-25% (with today's grid) of generation to increased percentages. With PHEVs and EVs attached and V2G applications, renewables would be even more be able to compete and replace conventional generation.

I believe there was a study in Minnisota or Milwalkee or such that was recently commissioned that stated that the state's grid could readily handle 25% of capacity from wind sources without upgrading. A smart grid would be able to handle even higher amounts. The DOE recently stated an objective of 20% from wind which would make it equivalent to today's nuclear sourced electrical energy. A smart grid fits nicely with renewables and their more modular design and geographical dispersion rather than the traditional monolithic baseline generation model and of course possible V2G applications.


The numbers I remember are that you can rely on about 40% of your wind generating capacity as base load, provided that the farms are spread out over a large enough geographical area to compensate for local weather conditions. Throw in the storage capacity of a million PHEV's and I'm sure that could increase.

And with solar soon to become cost competitive (based on calculations done for me on a thread a couple days ago), this could easily be used to supplement baseload because over a large geographical area it is very consistent.


I generally would not be inclined to allow the Utility to suck energy away from my car. Look, I am already doing a favor for them by charging off the peak hour. What more do they want?

Dan A

Hydro's considered peak load because they can turn it on and off whenever it so pleases them, and the fuel is free, so it makes no sense for them to use their energy (stored water) when prices are low. You could use it as baseload, but they don't for the same reason they use nat gas for peak load.

Would you be willing to buy electricity for your car for $.10 per kwh for your car during the night, and sell it back to them for $.20 during the day--exactly.


Geothermal is also a baseload renewable.


Allowing the utility to drain your battery would depend on the number of discharge cycles your battery could take.
You probably don't want to fully discharge it every day - that would mean approx 3650 cycles over a 10 year period, and I am not sure how many battery types can take that.

As LuLu says, you are already doing them a favor by taking the electricity when they have excess, so leave it at that - unless you have a 4k cycle battery.

You would want a Huge area to get 40% coverage from wind.
30% is a figure I have heard, and you will get long times when there is very little wind for days on end - weeks even. Thus you cannot use wind without at least 80% coverage from an alternative source, like gas / coal / nuclear.
Solar has a daily cycle, so you can't use that. Solar thermal might do it.
Denmark has got to 20% from wind, but only because they can get hydro on demand from Norway.
Most people do not have huge hydro resources nearby.

I suppose the best thing you can say for wind is that it might make the gas last a bit longer.
- which is something, but alone it won't save the planet.


You can use high altitude wind if you want reliability.


The skyhooks are hard to source, however.


No mahonj, that's not what I said. You can use 40% of your wind capacity as base load. So what that means is if you are running 20% wind, then about 8% can be counted on for base load.

Combining solar with some kind of storage method is the ticket. Correct though, using PHEV's to store electricity in the day for feeding back into the system at night is obviously going the wrong direction. But again, peak demand is in the daytime. That is the whole point of charging your car at night and selling it back in the day. So in that respect, solar is timed properly.


"Skyhooks are hard to source!"

True - but lucky you don't need them for windpower to about 3 km.It is only a question of 'smart' design - to go with the smart grid! He He.


I got a kick out of this part:

"The PHEV aspect of the MSPC smart grid collaborative will include:
Using actual vehicles, some of which incorporate V2G systems, if and when available."

Let's study something we don't have!

John Taylor

@ Neil ... The bit on hydrogen as the "fix" is hidden in the report. It works for politicians who only need to convince enough of the uninformed, but those who take even a slight look at the technology involved realize the hydrogen highway runs on fairy dust and magic beans.

PHEVs and BEVs will mostly be charged at night during off peak times, so integrating them will be no problem at all.What we need to see is a program to produce and integrate home power generation into the electric grid.

@ Lulu ... I'm with you on this ... If I get a battery for "smart-grid" load transfer, it will be a heavy clunky cheap battery that stores my home generated power, not the ultralight hi density expen$ive one that powers my car.

Palle R Jensen

Sustainable transportation systems in a world where China and India insist on the same attractive mobility as we take for granted in the western world, can not be obtained with todays technology.
An attractive solution can be dualmode electric cars (
The RUF concept has been developed and tested in Denmark


"Skyhooks are hard to source!"

Not really.


This is where Detroit would have been 8 years ago if it hadn't been for the election stolen in Florida... <sigh>

Robert Marston

We're going to need to add storage capacity for renewables -- wind and solar.


What amount of storage - hours - days - weeks ?

It isn't easy at all. Hours can be done by pumped storage stations, but beyond that (or holding back hydro) you are drawing a blank.

You might be able to do solar thermal storage to get a few hours into the evening / night, but beyond that, you need peaking generators or demand management.

Demand management seems like the best way to go.
It will take time, and a bit of a paradigm shift for consumers, but it can be done and it will help.

It isn't the solution, but it is part of the solution.

+ the skyhooks are powerpoint ware, not reality.


Actually, the skyhooks have been tested.  Just not at full scale.

Demand management is great on a time scale of hours (days for ice-storage A/C) but it only goes so far for energy storage; at the end of the day you've got to have enough energy coming from somewhere to get folks home, cook dinner, etc.  What DSM and V2G can do is provide rock-solid stability of the grid in the face of generator fluctuations on the scale of minutes.  This eliminates the need for physical spinning reserve and fast-varying generators; the remaining generation can be optimised for efficiency rather than fast-ramp capability, and everybody wins.

tom deplume

Did mention of the incredibly unlikely event of terrorist attack put in to get funding from the feds? Why wasn't resilience against the all too common storm damage a major part of the study?


"This is where Detroit would have been 8 years ago..."

I sometimes wonder what might have been, but I feel more confident on what probably would not have been. That list of negative things that probably would not have happened grows longer every day.

I do think that we have made much progress on the PHEVs, renewable energy and other important matters and that was by design. It may have not been what most people wanted, but what people wanted was not important from the beginning.

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