Canadian Manufacturing

8 automakers, 15 utilities team up to develop smart grid tech

Working with Electric Power Research Institute to develop, roll out standardized smart grid integration platform

DETROIT—Eight automakers and 15 electric utilities, including one Canadian company, are teaming up with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop and roll out a standardized smart grid integration platform.

“As electric vehicles become more prevalent in the marketplace, it will present some unique challenges and opportunities for utilities who manage the flow of the electric grid,” Dan Bowermaster, electric transportation manager with EPRI, said in a statement released by General Motors Co. (GM), one of the automakers involved in the program.

“The focus of this collaboration is to create a standard program that will allow utilities to work with different types of plug-in vehicles to more efficiently manage their demand on the grid.”

Joining GM are seven of its automotive industry peers, including Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Ford Motor Co., Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., BMW AG, Chrysler Group LLC and Toyota Motor Corp., as they look to develop a cloud-based, central server that would receive grid requests from a utility and then translate and “standardize that request so it could be relayed to all appropriate plug-in vehicles” in the area.

For the first phase of the program, EPRI and the participating companies will work to develop a standardized demand response solution—a signal a utility sends to an energy management company communicating the supply and demand needs to the electric grid.

The company would then communicate with nearby plug-in vehicles to manage their energy consumption.

For their end of the bargain, automakers would be expected to develop and deploy technologies compatible with smart grid communication.

A total of 15 utility providers are signed up to participate in the program, including DTE Energy Co., Commonwealth Edison, Consolidated Edison, Inc., Duke Energy, PJM Interconnection LLC, Northeast Utilities, Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., San Diego Gas & Electric, CenterPoint Energy, Inc., Southern Co., Pacific Gas & Electric Co., CPS Energy, Austin Energy, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and Manitoba Hydro.

“One thing that’s missing from most smart grid programs is a sense of collaboration,” GM chief technology officer Tim Nixon said.

“Companies will showcase a meaningful solution, but without widespread acceptance in the industry, its usability is limited. That’s what makes this partnership unique.”

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