Two Southeast Utilities Partner on Plug-In Hybrid Smart Charging Trial

Jose Michael

Advanced Energy, in partnership with utilities Duke Energy and Progress Energy, will initiate a smart charging trial of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Twelve converted Toyota Priuses will be equipped with charging management technology from Seattle-based V2Green (earlier post) and deployed in North Carolina and Florida.

Advanced Energy will lead the design and implementation of the charging management scenarios to be explored in the trial. The trial will assess the potential of plug-in vehicles to positively impact electric grid operations, maximize use of clean energy and demonstrate that PHEVs are a viable alternative to today’s cars.

Advanced Energy—formerly called Alternative Energy Corporation, or AEC—was founded in 1980 by the NC Utilities Commission to investigate and implement new technologies for distributed generation, load management, conservation and energy efficiency. The Raleigh, NC-based non-profit focuses on industrial process technologies, motors and drives testing, and applied building science.

Advanced Energy is also leading the collaborative Plug-in Hybrid Electric School Bus Project that has resulted in the delivery of a number of these International buses across the US. (Earlier post.)

Each of the Priuses involved in the smart charging trial will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module (VCM) to establish two-way communication with the electric grid and make the vehicles grid-aware. V2Green server software will be used to manage the flow of electricity to the Priuses, successfully meeting the needs of both drivers and the grid.

When renewable energy, such as wind or solar power is available, charging behavior can be altered to maximize the use of cleaner energy. In periods of peak demand, charging can be delayed or slowed to avoid grid congestion and the need to provide electricity from high cost sources.

The involvement of both Progress Energy and Duke Energy will allow the trial to explore the billing and operational requirements of supporting plug-in vehicle roaming between adjoining utility service areas. Many plug-in vehicle owners will charge their vehicles at home in one service area, then commute to work and connect to the grid in a different service area. Valuable insight into driver behavior will result from the PHEV trial, the partners say, informing future consumer programs and inter-utility information exchange.

Progress Energy will operate six of the grid-aware vehicles, deploying four in North Carolina and two in Florida. Duke Energy will utilize three plug-in Priuses in North Carolina. The University of Florida’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities, along with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension service, will also participate with one vehicle.

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