BMW i3 Owners Get $1,000 To Delay Charging


2014 BMW All-Electric i3

BMW All-Electric i3

BMW, as announced earlier this year, together with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, has started the BMW i ChargeForward Program, a delayed charging program to test reduction of demand on the power grid during peak periods.

100 i3 drivers (out of approximately 400 applicants) will participate in the project in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Every participant will get $1,000 initially for readiness to delay charging by up to 1 hour on Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s request, plus additionally up to $540 at the conclusion of the program depending on their share in the program.

“For each program “event,” when PG&E experiences peak load conditions, participants whose vehicles are selected for delayed charging will receive a text message notifying them that their vehicle charging will be halted for up to one hour, thereby temporarily reducing the load on the power grid. Using the BMW i ChargeForward smartphone app, participants can choose to opt out of any request based on their driving needs, however, and their vehicle charging will continue uninterrupted – for example, if they need to depart for a trip during peak load times and need a full charge sooner.”

Julia Sohnen, Advanced Technology Engineer – Sustainable Mobility at the BMW Group Technology Office USA said:

“One thing that we’ll be investigating with this pilot is understanding how people charge, how flexible they are with respect to when they charge, and how best to design future products in way that benefits both customers and utilities.”

BMW intends to have 100 kW of power available for Pacific Gas & Electric Company at any time.

Can't Wait to See a Plug-In Hybrid One of These


There is also a 240 kWh energy storage system built from old MINI E battery packs, combined with solar power, which will be used in the demand response tests.

“EV battery “second life” system using MINI E vehicle batteries.

The battery second life portion of the project involves a full-scale stationary energy system built from eight used MINI E batteries to store energy and return it to the power grid. This 240 kilowatt-hour system, located at the BMW Technology Office in Mountain View, California, is one of the largest second life systems in the world.

At the end of a vehicle’s life, these batteries still have at least 70% of their original storage capacity available, making them suitable for re-use. By removing them from the vehicle and installing them in a stationary storage system with integrated solar power generation, new renewable capacity can be added to the grid—supported by resources that once took energy from it.

This additional power will supplement the energy load reduction by intelligent management of BMW i3 charging, to ensure PG&E grid needs are met, based on signals sent to BMW by PG&E as part of Demand Response.”

According to Bloomberg, PG&E estimates that there are 65,000 EVs in its vast northern California service territory. Counting just 1 kW average per vehicle (not all will be connected at peak load) we see potential for 65 MW of peak shaving already.

Category: BMW

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27 responses to "BMW i3 Owners Get $1,000 To Delay Charging"
  1. “Some* BMW i3 Owners in California Get $1,000 To Delay Charging”

    * requires i3 owners to also be a PG&E customer.

  2. David Murray says:

    You know.. Here’s a thought I’ve wanted to mention for a while. With our EVs I will not set it to charge at off-peak times. Why? Because when I get home I want to make sure it charges up in case I need to go back out that evening.

    However, I’ve often thought of a compromise that would be great. If I could set the EV to charge immediately up to a certain point (let’s say 50%) and then charge the remaining amount later at night, that would be great. On a PHEV like our Volt I could probably go for a smaller amount, maybe 25%. Since most anywhere I’ll need to go in the evening is likely the store and will be nearby.

    1. wavelet says:

      Since all these charging systems are computer-controlled (whether in the car itself, a smartphone app or inside an EVSE), and already have some kind of UI to let the user determine charging start times at the very least, it would be trivial, just a few lines of code, to make it slightly more flexible.

    2. mustang_sallad says:

      GM offers exactly that on the Chevy Spark, they call it Priority Charge and it defaults to 40%:

      1. finecadmin says:

        Another EVSE maker (which I can’t remember) has built a unit that doesn’t cut out, but simply goes from L2 wattage to L1 in a grid event.

        Even this PG&E program will let you declare a personal emergency, and charge on. It’s there in the press release, it’s just not pointed out prominently.

  3. ggpa says:

    While I am happy that research is being done to improve the power network in California where we live, I am not happy about the $1000 checks that are being sent to participants.

    That money comes from the California rate payers, like me.

    I think enough people would co-operate with the research for free. I say that because many EV owners (like the ones reading this blog) are very involved with and interested in technology.

    1. finecadmin says:

      Except incentivization of some sort would also happen IRL (an actual rollout). Thus some incentive is _also_ part of the demo here. Simply drawing from ‘kindness of their hearts’ may introduce an observer or confirmation effect, from a subpopulation of a population that was already small.

      There’s a difference between ‘us’ (EV faithful) and ‘we’ (drivers at large). This program apparently know it, too.

  4. Bonaire says:

    While nice – this is pretty large in terms of cash to do something that most people were already doing in the first place.

  5. Speculawyer says:

    That is ridiculously generous. Just adjust the TOU prices to be 40 cents per KWH during that peak time. That will get people to delay.

    1. finecadmin says:

      No, it isn’t. We have already found that setting a hard limit leads to a power spike at, say, 10:02. This can be replicated by some models as an emergent behavior.

    2. JH in SD says:

      40 cents??? Peak rates in San Diego for SDG&E’s TOU2 schedule is 49 cents.

      1. Just_Chris says:

        ouch! you are almost at the cost you’d get from a diesel gen-set, probably not far off what you could do with a solar/battery/gen-set hybrid system.

        1. Just_Chris says:

          do you have a link to the price plan?

      2. ffbj says:

        Yikes! Man are you guys getting hosed.

  6. james says:

    I started delayed charging as I heard it was better on the battery, I charge after midnight so I have a battery at ambient temp instead of just drained.

  7. paul says:

    Wow, $1K! PG&E must be desperate! What happens when 10% or even just 5% of all Calif drivers adopt EVs? Are we going to become like Iraq, where electrical power is only available to certain zones or neighborhoods no more than 4 hours per day??
    The grid needs to be fixed – and the only way to keep it green (no GHGs) is expand so called renewable power sources. Here’s the problem: Nearly all proposed utility-scale renewable power facilities are litigated for years and years in Calif – and little happens. Doesn’t the enviro-left see the ‘See The Forest For The Trees’ !! Or you can have you cake & est it too! Geezzz…

    1. finecadmin says:

      Let’s see… reductio ad absurdum, strawman, false dichotomy, multiple forms of baiting… _I_ can see the straw for the fake trees.

  8. scott franco the greedy republican says:

    PG&E won’t be paying a DIME. This will be passed on to consumers. All PG&E does is get permission from the PUC to pass these costs on to their customers. They *love* programs like this, because the PUC won’t let them raise prices, but will let them pass charges on like this one.

    And all this PG&E does instead of having CLEAR and OBVIOUS incentives to charge at night. I tried for hours to figure out if PG&Es EV plans would help me or hurt me, only to be told that I should “try the plan, see if it saves you money, then you can switch back”. They have made the formulas for EV plans so complex that the PG&E operators who give out information can’t even give you a clear estimate if you will save or lose money by switching to an EV plan.

    GIve me a freaking break. PG&E, and the PUC and the government in CA have their heads so far inserted in their posteriors they have to use a cane to walk backwards.


    1. Bill Howland says:

      Your post makes the most sense to me Scott. If they were serious about shifting demand they’d offer more agressive Time-of-use rate discounts, as every other utility has for around 70 years, even having for most of that time implementing it with mechanical Time Switch mechanical registers…

      With electronic revenue meters (they don’t even have to be ‘smart’), its trivially easy to implement time-of-use.

      The big question is why Californians are so gullable as to quietly go along with confiscatory elecrical rates. Because they’ve been hookwinked by ENRON before, PG&E now amounst others, they are soon to be bilked for water usage since the saying is cropping up in the news: “Water is the new Oil (or Gold)”.

  9. Just_Chris says:

    It’s a study, they are offering the large sums of money to allow the to get people to sign a contract, probably fill out a questionnaire and because they need all the participants living in a certain place. It’s a lot cheaper than buying or loaning 100 cars for the study.

  10. Bill Howland says:

    How about $500 for each family that decides to have cold toast for breakfast?

    After all PG&E can afford to give out this money to their premium customers..

    They’ve already fleeced them out of $7 Billion on the ‘Smart Meter’ program, with more to come…

    I’m hoping most middle class Californians enjoy their 30-50 cent per kwh summers.

    THe British utility National Grid tried that in Buffalo, NY the winter before last by raising the rates from 13 to 22 cents per kwh blaming it on high natural gas prices. But my CCF pricing from a competitor natural gas company only moved up 5% during the time period in question.

    EVERYONE around me started calling their state representatives. THe next month, National Grid lowered the rates down to 8 cents per kwh. Just a coincidence, of course.

    1. Just_Chris says:

      If 30-50 cents per kWh is the peak what would the “off-peak” rate be?

      1. Bill Howland says:

        I defer that to the PG&E subscribers here.

        I always chuckle at what they accept as ‘reasonable’ when most of the rest of the country wouldn’t stand for it.

        Of course, its almost as bad in downstate NY, which I think at one time wanted to secede from the state. They should have.

        They do have their NIMBY, and BANANA troubles, so much has to be shipped in from mexico or neighboring states, but I’m still talking proportion here.


  11. Bill Howland says:

    Allright, time to get a bit serious:

    “PG&E will keep 100 kw available at any time”

    That’s like 1/10th of a supermarket,

    Or, less the ONE model S charging at ANY supercharger in the state.

    So what do they do during a brownout? Call out the cops and find the ONE model S somewhere that is causing it?

    This is how ridiculous this program is.

  12. John Higham says:

    BMW pays the $1k per car, not PG&E.

    100 kW May not be much, it it’s enough for the purpose of this study. Plus it’s 100kW that PG&E can count on, on demand.

    What’s the problem peeps?

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Not so much of a problem John, as one of proportion:

      You do realize just one ADDITIONAL model S pulling up to a supercharger in the ‘study area’, negates all the ‘good work’ BMW is trying to do.

  13. George Betak says:

    Nice article, Mark! I’ve read all the comments, and it appears that there is some confusion about both the motivation and the nature of this pilot program.

    I took the liberty of uploading the presentation BMW gave to group of i3 customers and prospects earlier this year. The original of this presentation can be found in the SF Bay Area BMW i3 group.

    I hope that this will aid the discussion.
    Happy to share any details and my own perspective on this pilot, if it’s of interest.