Analysis shows smart EV charging is essential for grid management and cost saving

Electric Vehicle

Yesterday, applied research and commercialization institute Pecan Street released new analysis that shows utilities can save up to 41% on serving their residential electric vehicle charging loads by deploying smart charging technologies.

Pecan Street analyzed nearly 100 homes with EVs in Pecan Street’s research network and ran different simulations of grid and utility cost impacts for various charging technology adoption scenarios. The findings show an 18% cost increase for the worst-case scenario and a 23% cost decrease for the best-case scenario. The best-case scenario shifted a percentage of EV charging from peak times to overnight, while the worst-case scenario had more EV owners charging in the early evening.

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Pecan Street said that higher capacity vehicle charging will play a significant role in the viability and adoption of longer range EVs but cautioned that done incorrectly, this type of EV charging could be a more expensive and less predictable load for utilities. It recommended that utilities take a proactive and deliberate approached to integrating smart charging technologies, along with demand response programs, and utility customer outreach and education.

Smart Charging programs can incorporate price signals and managed charging capabilities such as programmable chargers that control when vehicles charge similar to the way smart thermostats operate.

If utilities take these steps, EV charging can be a powerful grid management tool and a net positive for utilities, their customers, and the climate, said Pecan Street.

“What’s so promising about this analysis is the clear opportunity to push innovation that will use vehicle electrification to create a more reliable electric grid and maximize greenhouse gas reductions,” said Pecan Street CEO Suzanne Russo. “It’s critical that utilities and regulators act now to establish programs that encourage the adoption of smart charging technology and optimal charging behaviors.”

“To get to a real-life scenario that looks like our best-case simulation, we’re going to need to see utilities lean in to smart charging technologies and demand response programs for charging,” said Pecan Street data analyst Cavan Merski. “This approach, along with customer education and incentives, can shift EV charging to optimal times, as we’ve seen with pilot programs, like the CCET study.”

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