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SoCal Edison white paper shares data about PEV usage and charging

PEV Infographic 1 V4
About 50% of the more than 12,000 PEV owners in SCE territory charge at Level 1. Click to enlarge.

Southern California Edison (SCE) released a white paper summarizing learnings from its Electric Vehicle (EV) readiness program. The paper, “Charged Up: Southern California Edison’s Key Learnings about Electric Vehicles, Our Customers and Grid Reliability,” shares information based on customer data and utility operations gathered since SCE began to prepare the distribution system and its customers for widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption in its service territory.

Currently, SCE customers lease or own more than 12,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), both battery electric (BEVs, for about 35%) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs, for about 65%)—about 10% of national EV sales. (SCE estimates that by 2020, there will be about 350,000 PEVs in its service territory.) Because California leads the nation in EV adoption, other utilities and stakeholders in the auto industry may find the information from the white paper useful, SCE suggested.

The Southern California region and SCE’s service territory in particular is seeing significant uptick of early plug-in vehicle adoption. SCE is partnering with auto makers, dealers and the communities we serve to help educate our customers on ways to seamlessly connect their new EVs to an ever-changing electrical system.

—Ed Kjaer, SCE director of Transportation Electrification

SCE began its PEV readiness efforts in 2009, and quantified the anticipated impact of PEVs on the electric grid before consumers began buying and leasing them. Because “early adopters” tend to cluster in the same neighborhoods and adding a plug-in vehicle is like adding another house to the circuit, in terms of load, SCE developed an operational strategy to upgrade distribution circuits.

Over time, circuits need to be resized to match the changing needs of customers. Just as SCE now sizes its transformers to serve plasma TVs, it integrated the expected load from PEVs into standards applicable to its “grid modernization” efforts.

Since 2010, of all the nearly 400 upgrades made to (or identified for) circuits that serve PEV customers, only 1% of that work was required due to additional power demands from PEVs. The rest of the work was required under the regular infrastructure upgrade and maintenance schedule.

A residential circuit handles something like 7-10 homes; adding a plug-in is like adding an extra home to the circuit. We’re finding a very low incidence of infrastructure upgrade required because of plug-ins. There is nothing like doing upfront preparation to ensure that things go according to plan. When we anticipated the cars were coming, we did a huge amount of work analyzing the circuits, and anticipated where we’d see clustering of the vehicles. We incorporated the load analysis into our overal daily infrastructure actions. We’ve got a very good handle on the increased load from transportation—that’s just being incorporated into daily activities as we upgrade the system. We obviously have a very good handle on the characteristics of those vehicles.

—Ed Kjaer

Current data shows that about 50% of PHEV drivers in the SCE territory charge at Level I (120 volts), resulting in a much lower impact on grid distribution circuits than if more customers charged at Level 2 (240 volts). With 70% of SCE PEV owners commuting 40 miles or less daily, many PEV owners can fully recharge at night at Level 1; SCE encourages PEV customers to charge up every night at home.

The paper notes one caveat—an increasing market share of BEVs coming with on-board chargers with higher capabilities (from 3.3 kilowatts to 6.6 kilowatts or even higher). This could create new implications for grid reliability, which SCE is monitoring, it said. SCE said it encourages its PEV customers to contact the utility for their charging needs, so it can ensure that local distribution circuits meet the additional energy demands of growing numbers of BEVs.

The paper also highlights the challenge with provision of a charging infrastructure to multi-family residences—e.g., urban dwellers without a garage for a charger. About half of SCE’s residential customers live in multi-dwelling units, such as condos and apartments. SCE research finds that despite high interest among condo/townhome owners and renters in purchasing a PEV within five years, fewer than 5% of building owners or condominium associations are even considering installing the necessary infrastructure.

One solution that SCE does not see as currently viable for the multi-family residence problem is the provision of fast chargers for convenient daily charging stations.

There is no question that we need to address the multi-family dwelling challenge. It’s not easy. Getting the infrastructure into those buildings, unless its brand new construction, is difficult. But I’m not sure fast charging really compensates for that—the cost to fuel the vehicle will be more expensive or comparable to gasoline. We’re talking about 480 volts—a big circuit. And you’re probably looking at demand charges on top of the basic cost.

—Ed Kjaer

SCE summarized its other takeaways from the readiness program as follows:

  1. Its approach to managing PEV-grid impact is meeting customers’ needs.

  2. Using the “end charge” time programing feature (when drivers program their charging to be complete by a specific time) is better for grid reliability and neighborhood circuits. When customers set an “end charge” time for charging to be complete, they randomize the start time of their charging, which prevents a large number of vehicles from coming online at the same time—avoiding power-load spikes that potentially could affect the local distribution system.

  3. When 15,000 SCE customers visit the SCE EV website monthly, about 46% make their first stop with the Plug-In Car Rate Assistant Tool, which helps estimate charging costs. Customers also click to find out more about public charging station locations from the link to the US Department of Energy’s map, watch videos on EVs and read background materials on environmental benefits and home electric infrastructure requirements.

  4. Initial findings show early adopters of battery-electric vehicle (BEV) technology demonstrate consistent and predictable behavior. A sample of Nissan Leaf owners have indicated that any “range anxiety” had been eliminated after driving their new BEV over time. Most reported their overnight charging at 240 volts was sufficient to support their daily driving patterns.

  5. Virtually all of the 180 cities in SCE’s service territory are committed to helping their residents plug in by streamlining permitting and inspection processes.

Looking ahead, Kjaer noted that PEVs could indeed play an important role in the provision of grid services in context of renewable energy integration and electric system load management.

That truly is the role of the utility. The grid is becoming much more dynamic. One of the advantages of this load from PEVs is that it is malleable. You can ramp it up, ramp it down, turn it on, turn it off. We have these large off-peak windows we deal with—9 at night to noon, say. I think that the utilities have the ability to manage this load at scale across the system. I do think that grid services will be important piece. We are a ways away yet, we are still building out the smart grid, and then ultimately getting to the point where the energy is omnidirectional. But there is no question that the cars have an important role to play.

—Ed Kjaer



What's interesting is that as battery packs in BEV get bigger, the need for L2 charging actually goes down, not up. If you can charge for 10 hours a night (and on average, given weekends, you can probably do more) you'd get enough charge time to go about 15k - 20k miles a year (40-50 miles a night).

The problem is that current BEV don't offer enough of a buffer to allow you to drive 15 miles 1 day and 90 miles the next on level 1. But when the BEV has 200 or so miles of range, level 1 will likely be fine for most people in non-road trip scenarios.

Kit P

“(SCE estimates that by 2020, there will be about 350,000 PEVs in its service territory.) ”

I estimate that there will close to zero BEV being charged in SCE territory. Fads come and go but batteries are expensive and do not last very long. Not a sustainable solution in the first place.

When customers set an “end charge” time for charging to be complete, they randomize the start time of their charging, which prevents a large number of vehicles from coming online at the same time—avoiding power-load spikes that potentially could affect the local distribution system.

I've hammered on this before.  Ideally the start times and charging rates would be controlled to shape the demand curve so it can be met at the smallest cost, while limiting demand on the local circuits.


@Sublime - L2 charging can be more efficient than L1 in most cases due do fixed losses (in the charger, not based on rate) for less time. Here is a DOE study showing this with the Chevy Volt : Link
So hopefully more PEV owners will use L2.


In a windy country, if you had a large (say > 40Kwh) battery, you could postpone charging by 1 night if it was going to be windier the next night. (Or you could postpone it till later in the night).

Wind predictions are pretty good for 1-2 days out.

Solar is different, because most people would be in work during the sunniest part of the day, so you (Germany) would have to ensure that people could charge at work to benefit from the excess power available at that time.

However, you would need very smart billing and timing systems to persuade people to actually do this.

As sublime says, as battery packs get larger, you get more range, AND more flexibility in charging.

On a wider note, should we try to use PEVs to balance the grid, would we not be better with dedicated batteries (in homes or organisations) to do this. They could be heavier, and would be available all the time.


The problem with solar PV paired with EVs is that you need a huge number of EVs to buffer the short-term generation surges characteristic of PV.  It would take about half an Opel Ampera per capita in Germany to fully buffer their existing generation excess.

Kit P

"should we try to use PEVs to balance the grid"

Balancing the grid is not a problem. Putting a large number of BEV in cities where there are not power plants or building large amounts of renewable energy where the is few people could cause a problem.

It is not a problem we can not solve. Please give us lots of money.

Bob Wallace

"In a windy country, if you had a large (say > 40Kwh) battery, you could postpone charging by 1 night"

Most of the world has access to good wind sources, at some level everywhere is windy country. Just have to figure in the cost of transmission.

A 40kWh battery would give the LEAF a ~130 mile range. That's almost 4x the average daily drive. Half of all EVs could skip multiple charging days. Seeing a period of low wind coming, utilities could fill up all batteries and have much less demand to service while winds are low.

Manufacturing card metered outlets on large scale would make them cheap. (A Kill-A-Meter retails for about $20. Basic cell phone chips are cheap.)

Installing metered outlets at work/school sites would mean opportunities to charge for people who don't have a place at night.

With more solar coming on the line we are likely to see the sort of situation now seen in Germany where solar has eliminated high wholesale electricity prices on sunny days. Midday wholesale electricity prices are as low as late night.

A small user fee added to the price of electricity would pay for metered outlets, even create a new profit stream for businesses.

And, as you point out, controllable load has great value to grid managers. I suspect they'd be glad to sell electricity for a bit less if they are able to control the time of delivery.

I can see a time, not too far off, when we will have parking lots with lots of wireless chargers installed. If you want to pick up some extra power just park over one and let your car communicate the amount needed and where to send the bill.

Kit P

“Most of the world ..”

Of course we are talking about SCE. That is what BS Bob does. Makes up generalities that have nothing to do with the facts of the matter. This is California where the left coast fruits and nuts like to get their power from same place else. That power is from coal plants in the Southwest.

After the 2000/2001 California energy crisis caused by not building enough gs fired power plants, it took California to reach a consensus on energy policy. The policy is to increasing depend natural gas to make electricity while talking about renewable energy.

The problem with most of the world is they the left coast fruits and nuts are just that. The rest of the world is worried about freezing to death on cold winter nights not charging inefficient batteries with fossil fuel while playing let's pretend.

“retails for about $20 ”

Of course this is not some silly gizmo but a power transfer device. Better check out the cost of 220 V, 30 amp GFI breaker, the certified electrician, and routine testing. Do not forget the insurance for electrocution.

“profit stream for businesses ”

Really! BS Bob's plan is to charge a small fee to pay for a capital and maintenance intensive operation. I do know where they will send the bill. Every April 15th the IRS distributes the cost to hard working Americans who will never see a benefit.

Bob Wallace

Of course AH Kit ignores the fact that retailers are already installing charge points around the nation.

IKEA's in the game. Cracker Barrel charges.

A chain of Penn grocery stores offers free charging for shoppers.

It takes a lot of effort to maintain an electrical outlet. Everyone who owns a home or rents one knows that. You've pretty much got to keep an electrician sitting on your living room couch 24/7.

AH Kit also isn't keeping up with his coal facts. Probably too many years of getting his grey matter irradiated with that too cheap to meter stuff.

"Southern California Edison (SCE), a subsidiary of Edison International, intends to divest its 48 percent share of Four Corners Power Plant by the end of 2016. Located west of Farmington, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation reservation, the power plant represents SCE’s last remaining stake in a coal-fired power plant.

In a March 1 financial disclosure to federal regulators, the company indicated that California law prohibits it from making long-term investments in generators that emit high levels of greenhouse gases, which include most coal power plants.

“SCE thus does not expect to enter into any long-term ownership arrangements for its share of Four Corners Units 4 and 5 after the 2016 expiration of the current participant agreements due to the investment constraints of SB 1368,” the company said in the report.

“California law prohibits certain future investments in plants such as Four Corners,” said SCE spokesperson Gil Alexander. “We do not intend to be a partner at the Four Corners plant beyond the current contract.”

Southern California Edison isn’t the only one. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which gets 44 percent of its electricity from coal, announced in October 2009 it would eliminate the purchase of coal power in the next 10 years. The trend shows utilities are increasingly seeing coal as a bad business decision."

Kit P

"Kit ignores "

That is correct, I do ignore greenwashing.

"electrician sitting on your living room couch 24/7"

I have wire lots of outlets which is why I know the cost of a 220 V, 30 amp GFI breaker.

Kit P

“Kit also isn't keeping up with his coal facts.”

Of course I am but I am not the least bit confused by California BS greenwashing. Just checked CAISO. Yesterday about 40% of California’s power came from burning fossil fuel instate. About 20% came from power imported from other states. SCE may not contract from a coal plant but the coal plant will keep producing the same power.

BS Bob likes to play lets pretend where our power comes from when it is really easy to count tons of coal being burned.

The power industry will not have a problem supplying 12,000 BEV or even 350,000. The power industry will continue to pass the cost on making power on to its customers.

Bob Wallace

AH Kit can't seem to comprehend that the world is changing.

"New analysis shows that the coal industry is in for some tough years ahead, as more than 280 coal-fired generating units are slated to be shut down in part due to stricter Environmental Protection Agency regulations."

He seems to be unable to comprehend that most of our EV charging will come from wind and at night when demand is low and the wind up.

"The prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged $40/MWh for projects negotiating contracts 2011 and 2012, spurring demand for wind energy."

$40/MWh means $0.04/kWh. Add back in the $0.022 PTC to get a non-subsidized price of 6.2c/kWh.

And that's for wind-electricity "delivered to their door". An all-in price that even includes wind farm profits.

Kit P

“Kit can't seem to comprehend that the world is changing ”

Let me check. Today as 40 years ago, 90% of our power is produced by steam plants. The mix has changed thanks to nuclear but power still comes from burning fossil fuel, wood, or heating water with the 2.39 MEV released by each fission.

BS Bob thinks 'from wind and at night when demand is low and the wind up'. Demand is lower on summer nights and wind does blow more some places more at night.

So what does Berkeley Bob not tell us. The wind farms are not where the demand is. Wind is most often going the opposition of demand if it is working at all. Almost all the time wind is not working.

With a large number of steam plants distributed around the country, it is not difficult to manage wind's inherent installable by changing the position of turbine control valves. So with 90% steam and 3% wind it works okay.

BS Bob thinks it might be a good idea to depend on wind farms thousands of miles away if we could just store the energy in BEV at night. Let look at the magnitude of this insane concept.

For each 1000 MWe of wind capacity you need a million BEV charging at night. I checked CAISO and BPA. That is 3 million for California and 6 million in the PNW.

I am predicting the BEV will go the way of the hoola hoop. By 2020 there will be very few BEV that are still working.


Some nuclear engineer; he gets the energy/fission low by 2 orders of magnitude.

His "expertise" in power plants didn't appear until some time after he started trolling.  I think Kit P is one of several sock puppets being operated by a paid astroturfer, working from a script that's been refined over time to try to make him appear more credible.  Yet still, the yawning cracks in the façade appear.

Kit P

“Some nuclear engineer ..”

Wrong again. I am a mechanical engineer. Power is produced by steam plants. E-P missed the point.

Can you produce power with wind or solar and charge batteries for a BEV? Sure you can and it might even seem like a good idea to a control system who like BS Bob pretends to know where power comes from.

A certain set of people want to change the world just for the sake of change. Other people like me want to know if change is better. Change can be better, worse, or just different.

If owning a BEV was a change for the better I would own one. E-P recently bought a BEV. I have been waiting for him to explain why it is better. His response is that I am a troll.

The second thing about change is there are more than one way to change. For example, we changed from making power with to coal for adding cheap oil as fuel. Sounded like a great idea at the time. Then we decided to change to using fission to produce power. At the same time, many thought renewable energy was a better choice. There are many biomass and geothermal steam plants working 30 years later. The interesting thing about many renewable energy advocates is they ignore what works well choosing to talk about what does not work well.

BEV, wind, and solar are doomed to fail for engineering reason.

Power is produced by steam plants.

More US electric generation is produced by gas and hydro turbines than coal-fired steam today.  Supercritical CO2 turbines may be the wave of the future.

Can you produce power with wind or solar and charge batteries for a BEV?

I never advocated those things as The Solution (though I have recognized them as having potential; the human ability to make them fill the need is another matter).  I'm an advocate of nuclear energy, which can do the job better than just about anything involving combustion. .

A certain set of people want to change the world just for the sake of change.

I want to go back to the 1968 vision of electric power, because it was realistic and better than the 2013 status quo.

am a mechanical engineer.

With a demonstrably poor understanding of key facts in areas where he claims authority, which is exactly what we'd expect of a sock puppet.

E-P recently bought a BEV. I have been waiting for him to explain why it is better.

This has been explained to you at length.  I will not repeat myself; anyone who finds this thread through e.g. a search engine can also find my explanation.

His response is that I am a troll.

Because you ask for repeats of things which have already been explained to you, among other reasons.  Wasting other people's time is a key goal of the troll.

BEV, wind, and solar are doomed to fail for engineering reason.

The BEV is destined to win for geological reasons:  oil will continue to get harder to find and more expensive to extract, and "renewable" fuels (most of which aren't) are too expensive and scarce to run an economy.  Electricity already does the heavy lifting in stationary applications, and between wires and batteries electricity will come to dominate land-based transport as well.

Kit P

“produced by gas ”

CCGT are steam plants.

“Supercritical CO2 turbines may be the wave of the future. ”

Add that to the list of ways we do not produce power.

“The BEV is destined to win for geological reasons: ”

In that case why is E-P hauling around heavy, expensive, and inefficient batteries in 2013?

CCGT are steam plants.

Soi-disant "mechanical engineer" who almost certainly isn't, let me clue you in:

  1. A great many gas turbine power plants are not CCGTs.
  2. The majority of the output from a CCGT comes from the gas turbine, not steam.
Sooner or later we're going to see something like a plant with a pressurized SOFC topping cycle, the anode-side tail gas burned with the preheated cathode gas in a gas turbine, and a steam turbine bottoming cycle.  The division in output will be something like 60%/30%/10%.  When you call it a "steam plant", we'll point and laugh.
Add that to the list of ways we do not produce power.

Edison didn't use steam turbines; his DC generators were too small for them.  Just wait.

In that case why is E-P hauling around heavy, expensive, and inefficient batteries in 2013?

The batteries are not inefficient, and I'm doing it because I'm ahead of the curve.

tom blakeslee

SCE's EV rates are a joke. They would actually increase my bill! Yes, it's only 9 cents from Midnight to 6 AM but the daytime rate more than doubles! It is a fraud!

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