Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) is developing three new pilot programs to test how bidirectional electric vehicles (EV) and chargers can provide power to the electric grid and other benefits to customers.
PG&E will test bidirectional charging technology in a variety of settings, including in homes, businesses and with local microgrids in select high fire-threat districts (HFTD). The pilots will test the ability for the EV to send power back to the grid and provide power to customers during an outage. PG&E expects its findings will help determine how to maximize the cost-effectiveness of bidirectional charging technology in providing a variety of customer and grid services.
The new pilots are separate and in addition to the collaborations announced in March with both General Motors and Ford Motor Co., and will help to inform the Department of Energy Memorandum of Understanding that PG&E and a collaboration of industry, government and labor leaders signed in April focused on accelerating “vehicle-to-everything” technologies.
Each of the new pilot programs offers a financial incentive for participating customers and additional benefits for those in disadvantaged communities. All three are expected to be available to customers in 2022 and 2023 and continue until incentives run out. PG&E expects customers will be able to enroll in the home and business pilots in late summer 2022.
“As electric vehicle adoption continues to grow, bidirectional charging technology has huge potential for supporting our customers and the electric grid broadly. We’re excited to launch these new pilots, which will add to our existing work testing and demonstrating the possibility of this technology,” says Jason Glickman, PG&E’s executive vice president of engineering, planning and strategy.
Bidirectional charging technology allows EVs to both take power from the grid, or from a customer’s solar system, and send it back to the grid. It’s one example of Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI), an umbrella term for the optimized interaction of EVs with the electric grid by adjusting the time, power level or location of the EVs’ charging or discharging.
While EVs already provide customers with cleaner air and reduced maintenance costs, among other benefits, testing emerging technologies to optimize EV integration with the electric grid could provide further value to all PG&E customers.
The 400,000 EVs registered in PG&E’s service area along with the quickly growing number of EVs across California represent a flexible grid resource, which could offer cost savings associated with operating and maintaining the grid as well as for customers who own an EV or are a part of a bidirectional EV-enabled community microgrid. Additionally, using EV batteries for power could reduce the need to build new standalone energy storage systems.
Through the pilot with residential customers, PG&E will work with automakers and EV charging suppliers to explore how light-duty, passenger EVs at single-family homes can help customers and the electric grid in various ways. These include providing backup power to the home if the power is out, optimizing EV charging and discharging to help the grid integrate more renewable resources, and aligning EV charging and discharging with the real-time cost of energy procurement. This pilot will be open to up to 1,000 residential customers who will receive at least $2,500 for enrolling, and up to an additional $2,175 depending on their participation.
The pilot with business customers will explore how medium- and heavy-duty and possibly light-duty EVs at commercial facilities could help customers and the electric grid in various ways. These include providing backup power to the building if the power is out, optimizing EV charging and discharging to support the deferral of distribution grid upgrades, and aligning EV charging and discharging with the real-time cost of energy procurement. This pilot will be open to approximately 200 business customers who will receive at least $2,500 for enrolling, and up to an additional $3,625 depending on their participation.
The microgrid pilot will explore how EVs – both light-duty and medium- to heavy-duty – plugged into community microgrids can support community resiliency during Public Safety Power Shutoff events. Customers will be able to discharge their EVs to the community microgrid to support temporary power or charge from the microgrid if there is excess power. Following initial lab testing, this pilot will be open to up to 200 customers with EVs who are located in HFTD locations that contain compatible microgrids used during Public Safety Power Shutoff events. Customers will receive at least $2,500 for enrolling, and up to an additional $3,750 depending on their participation.