Eight automakers tested technology in October designed to allow utility companies to communicate with plug-in electric vehicles via the cloud, an advancement that would help manage energy use and improve the efficiency of the power grid.

The automakers are collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute, leading utility companies and Sumitomo Electric to develop a two-way communication platform that would allow plug-in electric vehicles from all participating manufacturers to work with power grids. The system will enable the utilities to send a message directly to the vehicle, asking it to stop charging temporarily to help a grid that is becoming overloaded. The opt-in program allows customers to refuse the request if desired.

The technology demonstration took place Oct. 16 in Sacramento, Calif., at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center.
Ford Motor Co., which took park in the test, says that in a typical situation, a vehicle owner would plug the car in for charging and set a time for departure. If the system detects that pausing the charge would disrupt driver needs it would not stop charging. Otherwise, the charge would pause to help conserve power for the grid.

Utility companies will offer financial incentives to customers who make their plug-in electric vehicles available to the grid, similar to utilities offering customers discounts for allowing their home air conditioning to run intermittently during times of high demand. Customers who opt-in to the program can charge their cars at a location of their choice and have the ability to ignore the utility’s request to stop charging.

Utilities and regional transmission organizations that are participating in the software and hardware development and demonstration include DTE Energy Co., Duke Energy, PJM Interconnection LLC, CenterPoint Energy Inc., Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Southern Co., Northeast Utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Diego Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison, TVA, Manitoba Hydro, Austin Energy, ConEdison and CPS Energy.

Global automotive manufacturers working include Ford, American Honda Motor Co., BMW Group, Chrysler Group, General Motors Co., Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America Inc., Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc. and Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc.
Sumitomo Electric is the platform IT developer for the demonstration.

Additional Resources:

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