ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Bonus From Plugging Cars In
How California utility regulators are turning electric vehicles into grid resources; Harnessing the power of electric vehicles will be critical to the state’s renewable energy and climate goals, but big questions remain about how to spur adoption
Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 21, 2016 (Utlity Dive)
Editor’s note: California is leaving other states in its dust as it moves to capitalize on electric vehicles.
New numbers show California’s peak demand will stress its grid more than previously thought, and in response policymakers are pushing ahead with an unexpected solution: electric vehicles. In 2015, California’s grid needed as much as 10,091 MW of quick-responding resources to meet a three-hour load spike in the late afternoon and early evening. As soon as 2019, that demand spike could be almost 14,000 MW, according to a recently-released report from analyst ScottMadden. Using natural gas peaker plants to meet that load would impede the state’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And stationary storage, even with California's landmark storage mandate fully met, would provide insufficient ramping capacity. But electric vehicles (EVs) — already a benefit to utilities for the power demand they provide — could offer the grid something more.
If EV sales rise fast enough to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of putting 1.5 million zero emissions vehicles into service by 2025, EV battery storage could be an answer to the challenge of peak demand, according to a paper from California’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle regulatory proceeding. According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) white paper, EV batteries plugged into smart charging stations can be “fast acting resources” to meet grid needs nicknamed the “duck curve” because a theoretical graph of them devised in 2011 looked like a duck, with the sharp, late-day ramp up in load as the neck. The need to respond to that fast ramp is now more than theoretical. EVs plugged into smart charging stations are flexible load, especially with electricity price signals that influence when and how charging is done. Utilities can use that flexibility instead of natural gas peaker plants to manage the duck… click here for more