Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and automaker BMW have teamed up for a pilot to test the ability of electric vehicle batteries to deliver the service to the electric grid.
PG&E selected BMW to manage a minimum of 100 kilowatts of electric demand on PG&E’s system, much as other large industrial and commercial customers do today as part of the utility’s demand response programs.
Those programs improve reliability, lower costs and help the environment by incenting customers to cut usage during periods of high peak demand, the company said.
Demand response (DR) programs are beneficial as they delay the need to upgrade power lines, transformers and other equipment to handle infrequent peaks in demand. Also they reduce the need to buy expensive and polluting fossil-fueled power to meet the spikes in demand.
Under this partnership, BMW will help PG&E manage power demand on its grid in two ways: first, it will create a large energy storage unit at the BMW Group Technology Office in Mountain View, using lithium-ion batteries that were once installed in MINI E demonstration vehicles.
Second, BMW will enlist up to 100 customers of its new BMW i3 electric vehicles to take part in the BMW i ChargeForward Program.
PG&E will pay BMW for these services, as it does other demand response participants. However, BMW will leverage these payments to lower the overall cost of ownership of owning an electric vehicle.
BMW customers participating in the program will receive an upfront incentive to enroll and an ongoing incentive based on their performance in reducing load. Each customer in the program will be able to track the value of the ongoing incentive as well as opt-in/out for each event via a phone app throughout the 18-month pilot.
PG&E hopes that this program, if successful, will pave the way for other automakers and demand response partners to leverage the value of grid services from electric vehicles, and similarly reward electric vehicle customers.
Johnson said the pilot program will help determine if automakers are able and willing to provide such managed grid services, evaluate the benefit of putting vehicle batteries to work for PG&E customers, and develop incentives to help grow the market for clean electric vehicles.