As electric vehicle adoption drives higher peak demand, smaller utilities will need access to flexible and inexpensive managed charging solutions, according to the CEO of FlexCharging.
“We want to make this really easy for cooperatives to get on board and ramp up very quickly,” said company founder Brian Grunkemeyer.
FlexCharging has provided managed charging programs and pilots since 2019 and is now rolling out a product called EVision for smaller utilities that may have fewer resources to devote to demand management initiatives.
The platform includes simple program design components, an enrollment portal that “will be very easy to white label for utilities” and contracting will be straightforward enough that “people can read it and sign without actually having to go to a lawyer,” Grunkemeyer said.
The approach uses vehicle telematics to produce a “virtual sub-meter” for the EV that is capable of providing 15-minute interval data on charging sesssions and “avoids the capital cost of installing another meter in the house,” he said.
Poudre Valley REA, a cooperative in Fort Collins, Colorado, has signed on to pilot FlexCharging’s platform.
“We need a managed EV charging program to meet the needs of both our electric grid and the increasing number of EV owners in our area,” PVREA Energy Resource Director Tim Ellis said in an email. He called FlexCharging’s technology a “viable, cost-effective and user-friendly telematics solution.”
The EVision app allows customers to optimize charging around price, rooftop solar availability or a reduction in carbon emissions from the grid. This is an area where FlexCharging has seen customer behavior shift over time, Grunkemeyer said.
“I think inflation really hit people's willingness to value the environment a bit,” he said.
“When we started out, about a year or two ago with that feature, it was about evenly split between people who prioritized solar or carbon emissions, or price as their top priority. Now, for like about 60% of people, it’s price.”
For utilities, “what we're putting together here is a value stack,” Grunkemeyer said. The program can provide capacity and distrbution grid benefits, energy arbitrage opportunity, carbon reductions and data for integrated resource planning, he said.
“There is an interesting mix in what you do for people that own generation versus people that are just distribution system operators. But there's a lot of help that we can provide to utilities,” he said.