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EPRI and partners to stage public demo of Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software

The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), along with several auto manufacturers, utilities, and regional transmission organizations, will demonstrate the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) Platform software system, developed by EPRI and Sumitomo Electric Industries. The software is an advanced software platform for integrating plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) with smart grid technologies. (Earlier post.)

The live demonstration will showcase demand response and load curtailment capabilities through a single standards-based interface. The demonstration will involve 8 EV manufacturers, and attendees will include representatives from the state and federal public agencies involved with clean energy and transportation technologies, as well as the utility and automotive industries.

The event, to be held 16 October at the Sacramento (California) Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, is open to the public and will begin at 9 a.m. PT.

This demonstration represents a major milestone toward implementing a common interface communications architecture that meets the needs of utilities and equipment manufacturers while simultaneously benefiting electric vehicle owners and electricity users.

—Dan Bowermaster, manager of EPRI’s Electric Transportation Program

The open VGI platform facilitates communication with electric vehicles, enabling utilities to take advantage of the built-in smart charging capabilities and deploy PEVs to support grid reliability, stability, and efficiency. The utility will be able to send requests to the PEV either through a public broadband connection or the vehicle’s on-board control system to turn charging on or off or to reduce the charging power level when conditions on the grid require a load reduction to offset peaks in electricity use.

The process for managing PEV charging will be transparent to the vehicle owner. Vehicle owners maintain ultimate control and would have the option to participate in a demand response and load management program managed either by the utility or by a third party, or opt out altogether.

In the next development phase, the EPRI team will be integrating the PEV communications platform with residential, fleet, and commercial facility energy management systems. This will enable testing of its ability to manage local control scenarios such as demand management for commercial and industrial consumers. Additionally, it will enable interface communications for charging stations and commercial demand response facilitators.

Utilities and regional transmission organizations participating and supporting the development and demonstration include Austin Energy; CenterPoint Energy Inc.; Commonwealth Edison; Con Edison; CPS Energy; DTE Energy; Duke Energy; Manitoba Hydro; Northeast Utilities; Pacific Gas & Electric Company; PJM Interconnection LLC; Sacramento Municipal Utility District; San Diego Gas & Electric; Southern Company; Southern California Edison; and Tennessee Valley Authority.

Auto manufacturers are American Honda Motor Co.; BMW Group; Chrysler Group LLC; Ford Motor Company; General Motors Company; Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Inc.; Mitsubishi Motors R & D of America, Inc.; and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.

Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd. developed the first phase of the system platform for this program.

Managing the electricity demand of PEVs during charging offers several benefits:

  • The vehicle owner can set their PEV to automatically charge during “off-peak” periods of low demand. Annual savings of several hundred dollars are possible.

  • The vehicle owner retains ultimate control over their electric vehicle and can decide when to participate and when to opt out.

  • Utilities can avoid upgrading transformers and other distribution assets, reducing costs for all customers.

  • The software platform can provide information to adjust PEV charging loads up and down to accommodate the intermittent availability of renewable energy sources. This capability is particularly important in California, which requires 33% of electric generation to be met by renewables by 2020.


Patrick Free

This is a critical thing in my view. The great missing part in global plugs standardization for EVs & PHEVs so far. I can't believe the data interfaces were not fully standardized along with the Plugs, consistently in all parts of the World.
On thing seams still problematic here, as in many of not most cases in the large cities, the cars will be charged in underground car parks (At home or at work place, then on the road) that mobile phone datas may not reach in many cases. I would have expected that Datas could directly be routed between the car, the charger, and the grid via the electrical plug and the electric cables connecting to the grid, up to the Grid Manager, so we don't get stuck when no mobile data network is available.
Plus it is strange that while it happens in California, we don't see TESLA name in the list of Car Makers involved. Are Tesla involved in a competitive project somewhere else ? I tend to trust them more than German competitors listed here, regarding Electric cars related subjects....
On the car user side the battery wearing aspect may have to get more consideration. The Grids are paying a lot today to timely level their production to the exact demand all day long. Their interest to move this expensive function to free usage of EV batteries plugged to the grid is obvious. But these EV batteries have a limited number of Full charge/discharge cycles. So as a user I would only participate on such operations if my car vendor and my grid vendor can tell me what may be the maximum wearing impact on my battery, and after I make sure I get a contribution from the Grid, one way or another, to compensate me for that extra battery wearing. Especially if that allows the Grid to make significant savings versus today operations.
Still missing here are data standards allowing on non-free changing places, to recognize the car owner and bill the price for the charge on its own home power bill, that could simplify payments a lot.

Jim McLaughlin

Patrick, several US standards such as SAE J2847, J2931, etc. fully specify communication between the vehicle and the grid. The mobile phone network is not the only option for the communications medium.

These US standards are coordinated with the European IEC standards on a regular basis, the same way SAE J1772 is fully compatible and interchangeable with IEC 62196 Type 2.

I do not see any mention of reverse power flow in this article. Apparently this demonstration is only about so called "down regulation", so there is no issue with increased wear on your battery here, only increased time to a full charge. But the driver is in full control of whether they want to participate, the only trade off being cost to charge.

Reverse power flow is coming, giving the driver the opportunity for far greater savings (if not the occasional opportunity to actually get paid to charge) at the risk of slightly increased battery wear. But I don't see them talking about that here. There are significant issues to overcome in the regulatory area before mobile reverse power flow will be allowed to interconnect widely.

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