Ford, General Motors (GM), and BMW announced earlier this week that they would partner with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) to roll out an EV charging scheduling program.
The electric grid is undergoing significant change right now. Utilities are moving away from fossil fuels, consumers are buying more and more EVs and driving up demand for electricity; and at the same time, some homeowners are generating their own power. This rapidly changing environment means utilities face new challenges in meeting customer demand. To address this, Ford, GM, BMW, and SMUD are working together to schedule EV charging.
Scheduling EV charging allows for a couple of things. First, it moves excess demand away from peak hours when utility companies may already be having trouble meeting demand. Second, it allows EV owners to charge their vehicles when electricity is cheapest and least demanded. Third and finally, the grid becomes more balanced in power production and usage.
The charging scheduling program the companies are implementing will pay customers to charge their vehicles at set times of the day. This initial program will operate as a testing round, allowing SMUD to balance customer electricity usage and ultimately find the best way to spread out demand throughout the day.
While the program will be available to Ford, GM, and BMW customers, with the vast majority of EVs on the road in the US being Tesla’s, Tesla’s absence from the deal is quite thought-provoking. It is also not immediately apparent how the program will interact with customers who generate their own power or those with home battery systems, as these factors could significantly change how their vehicles interact with the grid.
As more and more utilities face the challenge of balancing new power generation systems with rapidly increasing demand, expect more utilities to implement charging scheduling into their grid management. Electric vehicles consume a significant amount of power and ensuring that electric grids remain stable will require customers to be flexible about when and where they charge during the day.
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