BMW and PG&E announce successful electric vehicle trial

For 18 months, PG&E and BMW teamed up to test the grid flexibility of some 100 electric cars in the Bay Area. Because electric cars can draw prodigious amount of electricity, the companies sought to understand whether customers would be receptive to adopting flexible charging schedules that lessened the cars’ strain on the power grid. Overall, the experiment has been deemed successful with car owners being called on to shift charging by up to one hour 209 times over the trial period, in exchange for rebates from PG&E. In the end, “98 percent of participants indicated they were satisfied with the program and 93 percent stated that they are likely to participate in a similar program in the future if offered,” according to a press release about the trial. Though this experiment was limited in scope and scale, it is an important early step toward in showing that widespread adoption could happen in a way that poses minimal risk to the grid. Indeed, some researchers believe that electric cars can actually become a grid asset that facilitates activities such as integration of more renewable energy or enhanced home energy management options for consumers. Moving forward, based on the success of this trial, BMW and PG&E have announced plans to launch a new phase that further explores dynamic charging options for EVs and related customer behavior. 

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