Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV) readiness
"Who killed the electric car?" and "Revenge of the Electric car" are two documentary feature films by Chris Paine. Whether it is revenge of the electric car or not they are fast coming into the market. Several national and local governments have established Tax credits, subsidies and other incentives to promote the introduction and adoption in the mass market of plug-in electric vehicles (PEV) depending on battery size and their all-electric range. Almost every automobile manufacturer is releasing PEV. Now whether utilities are interested or not they have to get ready for it and they have critical role to play in the success of PEV. They cannot control the customers buying PEV and their charging patterns, all they can do is be prepared for it.
The best way to manage this would be to design new rates to attract customers to charge during the off peak hours. As much as possible utilities would like them to charge between 10:00 PM and 5:00 AM. Utilities and regulatory are working on coming up with new rate plan for PEV. Some utilities are also designing experimental flat rates. Utilities are preparing to have new plans and get the installations done for the PEV. Some utilities are installing special meter for PEV and some are trying to manage with new rate on the same meter. There are different types of chargers that would be available in the market. Depending on the charger levels (level 1, 2 and 3) the load and time to charge would change.
Early adopters would most likely be (wealthy people or risk takers) living in same area, causing cluster issues in early stages. Therefore, utilities must first ensure they're prepared on a more localized level rather than the bulk load. While new rates are being designed to attract customers to charge during off peak hours utilities can never control when a PEV is being plugged for charging. Early adopters might not care that much for the cost either initially. They might end up charging during peak hours.
The first step is ensuring the transformers can handle the extra load. Utilities implementing AMI could benefit from transformer monitoring by totaling the meter data of customers being served by the transformer. While this is to be done at the system level in long run to identify the overloaded transformers and taken action. Immediate short term option would be to check the transformer loading against existing data and forecasting the load with inclusion of PEV charge station (depending on the level) in the areas where PEV charge station is being deployed or a customer is being put into PEV rate. This can help utilities to avoid any transformer overloading issue initially. Since this is PEV is new for the grid, utilities are very cautious about not getting into news for any wrong reasons.
There are solutions available for identifying the transformer loading system wide and plotting them on the GIS map. Smart integrator is one such solution that can be plugged in by utilities to help them with transformer load management beyond PEV.
CS week 35 has a workshop on EV readiness let us wait to see what we get to learn.