General Motors and OnStar are launching a real-world pilot of smart grid applications for electric vehicles. Starting this quarter, hundreds of employees of regional utilities will drive leased Chevrolet Volts as their everyday vehicles and participate in the pilot.
Through the OnStar Advanced Telematics Operations Management System (ATOMS), a utility will be able to accurately monitor and manage the energy used by the vehicles. ATOMS is a backend platform running in OnStar centers; electric vehicles such as the Volt communicate with OnStar; utilities can then access OnStar-based ATOMS services either via a web front-end, or via integration into their or third-party software (such as Comverge’s IntelliSOURCE) via ATOMS APIs (application programming interface), says Paul Pebbles, OnStar’s Electrification Services Product Manager.
The data will give the utility insight into where and when EVs are charged and demand response, which allows the utility to reduce peak demand by shifting EV charging to non-peak hours. Through OnStar’s ATOMS infrastructure and partners’ solutions, utilities will be able to implement two Smart Grid services in the pilot:
Data Gathering. With customer permission, OnStar will provide the utility with overall charge level as well as charging history—by time and location—for the Volt pilot fleet, without the vehicles having to connect to a charging station. This will give the utility better insight for forecasting demand, setting rates and determining the best location for charging infrastructure.
Demand response. OnStar will allow the utility to actively manage EV charging for those who opt in to the service. The utility can then reduce peak loads by offering discounts or other incentives to encourage drivers to charge their EVs when overall electricity demand is lowest, typically in the early morning hours.
OnStar first demonstrated EV data gathering and demand response in February at the DistribuTECH conference in San Diego, along with:
Time-of-Use (TOU) rates. OnStar can receive dynamic time-of-use pricing from utilities and notify Volt owners of the rate plan offers via email. Owners can use OnStar to load the rate plans directly into their vehicle and access them to schedule charging during lower-rate periods.
Vehicle-to-Home Integration Technology. OnStar exhibited alongside Tendril to provide a look at how the Tendril technology platform enables vehicle-to-home integration, simplifying energy management and the implications for future connected home applications.
The integration and demonstration of these OnStar smart energy management technologies is part of a demonstration program with participating utilities across the United States. The program is made possible with a grant of more than $30 million from the Transportation Electrification Initiative administered by the US Department of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.