In the US, summer has become synonymous with blackouts and brownouts. Each year, an ageing power grid creaks under the additional demand from air conditioners and other appliances – and that was before electric vehicles (EVs) came along. Just last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced two proposed rules designed to ensure that 67% of new passenger cars and 25% of heavy trucks sold by 2032 are electric. Combined with state-level bans on the sale of combustion-engine vehicles by 2035 and steep discounts offered by Tesla and other automakers, it’s no surprise that EVs accounted for 21% of new vehicle sales in states like California. Unfortunately, California has also grappled with increased energy load as recently as 2020, and narrowly avoided a Labor Day weekend blackout last summer.
While blackouts regularly make the front page of newspapers, a few innovative American utilities have been quietly piloting “smart charging” programs to leverage EVs as a grid asset. The fact is that EV charging is inherently flexible: data from millions of charging sessions on ev.energy’s platform show that the typical EV is plugged in for 12-14 hours at a time but only requires 2-3 hours of charge per session. Leveraging software that connects over the internet to an electric vehicle or its charger, and schedules the charge to occur during the most grid-friendly hours within that 12-14 hour window, is the smart-charging technology that ev.energy has successfully deployed from coast to coast and around the world.
In California, MCE Clean Energy, the state’s largest Community Choice Aggregator, built up a 5 MW virtual power plant of EVs through its MCE Sync program. Through the program’s synonymous mobile app (powered by ev.energy), MCE customers were paid to allow their EV charging to be shifted away from high-demand hours; over the ten-day Labor Day 2022 heatwave, over 99% of customers participated and MCE’s EV demand was reduced by 96%. “Demand response saved the day,” as one industry expert put it.
In New York, Con Edison runs the country’s largest smart charging program, aptly named SmartCharge New York. With over 20,000 customer registrations, SmartCharge New York pays EV drivers $35 per month to avoid charging during peak hours (2 pm - 6pm Monday - Friday) during the summer with great results - just 2% of EV charging occurs during summer peak hours.
Texas has a reputation for pickup trucks and gas-guzzling SUVs, but the state is actually a leader in EV adoption with over 122,000 EVs registered as of April 2023. Texans love their performance cars (even electric ones), and over 1,000 of them have signed up to a virtual power plant program with ev.energy and ERCOT, part of Texas’ post-winter blackout grid modernization efforts. Using the ev.energy mobile app, Texans enroll their vehicle or charger, participate in demand-response events and earn cash back from ev.energy regardless of which electricity retailer they use.
Electric vehicles are here to stay, but blackouts don’t have to be. Learn more about how ev.energy’s turnkey managed charging programs can deliver peak load reduction while delighting EV drivers.