Managing Traffic on the Grid

Historically, infrastructure investments to enable new types of transportation have focused on railways, roads, and highways. But with continued growth projected for electric vehicles (EV), a strong transportation infrastructure will also require major investments on the electric grid. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. is on pace to have more than 1 million electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2018 and estimates indicate that figure will surpass 16 million in 2028. A Reuters analysis from earlier this year shows that global automakers have invested $90 billion in electric cars and batteries.

And more recently, there were three major announcements about EV investments in the utility industry: in New Jersey, PSEG announced plans to spend $300 million on smart electric vehicle infrastructure; in New York, Governor Cuomo and the New York Power Authority announced a $250 million electric vehicle expansion initiative; and, in California, the Public Utilities Commission approved $738 million in transportation electrification projects for the state’s electric utilities.

These investments all lay the groundwork for greater adoption of electric vehicles, and many will make it easier for drivers to charge their vehicles. But when it comes to integrating electrified transportation onto the grid, utilities still face several challenges, including addressing the additional stress on the grid, complex evaluation and forecasting, and grid intelligence.

The clusters of EV charging stations that will be built as part of many of these infrastructure investment projects will introduce very large, unpredictable load requirements to the grid – similar to multiple houses in a single neighborhood turning on all of their lights, appliances, heaters, and air conditioners at once! The electric grid was not designed to facilitate this kind of concentrated growth in new demand, and it will place unprecedented stress on equipment. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) estimates almost $90 million in transformer replacements due to excessive EV load.

Off-peak charging will help offset the demand challenges of EVs, and is a big part of the solution. But it isn’t enough. Visibility is key in accommodating EVs.

For utilities, determining where load and equipment overload issues may occur can be difficult to locate, as most lack the solutions to analyze the effect of EV projects and their impact on the grid. As Brett Hauser, CEO of Greenlots noted in an interview with Greentech Media, “if utilities don’t have visibility into these assets and how they’re being utilized, they can’t properly plan for their investments.” Grid intelligence is therefore a critical investment as part of the incorporation of EVs.

Grid intelligence will also be critical in determining the ideal locations for EV charging stations – especially the locations that will be key to lowering “range anxiety” and providing vehicle-to-grid (V2G) support.

These are all challenges that Utilidata is uniquely positioned to help utilities address. Our patented technology has delivered unprecedented intelligence and superior control for numerous utilities, and the same core techniques can be applied to provide a future-proof solution that enables the growth of EVs while avoiding capital intensive investments.

Our technology will make it easier for utilities to detect and mitigate excessive EV load, provide powerful analytics to drive optimal siting for EVs, and correlate data from across the grid to measure and quantify

impacts of various EV projects. With our solution, utilities have access to real-time detection of overloaded circuits and will be able to implement a variety of control strategies to mitigate and offset impacts of excessive EV load.

The future of transportation is electric, and we look forward to working with utilities across the country to provide technology that will help manage this new kind of traffic. To learn more about how our solution can be leveraged for EV integration, contact us.