General Motors and OnStar are launching the first real-world pilot of smart grid solutions for electric vehicles using hundreds of Chevrolet Volts leased by General Electric for its employees.
Starting this quarter, hundreds of employees of regional utilities will drive leased Chevrolet Volts as their everyday vehicles and participate in the pilot.
Automakers and utility companies have talked for years about the day when electric vehicles could work together.
Many utility companies throughout the U.S. have implemented programs where customers opt in to allow the utility to stop and start their home air conditioning units as needed when electricity demand is high. The customer benefit from this service is a lower electricity bill. OnStar’s smart grid solution builds on this concept, but to a much more advanced and sophisticated level.
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. The data will give the utility deep 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:
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.