Electrify America To Add Tesla Powerpacks To 100 New Charging Stations


Electrify America & Tesla reach a deal for energy storage systems

Electrify America today announced its plan to install Tesla Powerpack battery systems at more than 100 of their electric vehicle charging stations nationwide over the course of 2019.

Some may ask why onsite energy storage is necessary for EV charging, and the simple answer is demand charges. Demand charges are based on the highest draw the customer (in this case all the charging stations at one location) uses from the utility during a set period of time in a given month, usually carved up into 15-minute intervals.

Demand charges vary from utility to utility in the US, but they are so costly they make it nearly impossible for DC Fast charge stations to even break even, let alone be profitable. For example, I own and manage a 24 kW DC fast charger on my property in Montclair, NJ. I pay 12 cents per kWh for my electricity supply, but because the DC Fast charger pulls so much energy at once, I have to pay demand charges for it, pushing the cost of my electricity up well over $1.00 per kWh.

“Our stations are offering some of the most technologically advanced charging that is available,” said Giovanni Palazzo, chief executive officer of Electrify America. “With our chargers offering high power levels, it makes sense for us to use batteries at our most high demand stations for peak shaving to operate more efficiently. Tesla’s Powerpack system is a natural fit given their global expertise in both battery storage development and EV charging.”

Let’s say a Chevy Bolt owner pulls up to charge their car at my station and they stay for two hours. I charge $6 per hour to use the station, which is what I consider a reasonable amount for lower-powered 24 kW DC Fast station. In those two hours, the Bolt will accept close to 50 kWh. My utility, PSE&G, will bill me about $60 for the electricity, and I billed the customer $12 for the charging session. Then ChargePoint takes their 10% network management fee, so I’m left with $10.80; a loss of about $50.00.

An Electrify America site like this one with 10 high-speed DC Fast stations will draw a lot of power. On site energy storage will allow for substancial long-term electricity savings

Having onsite energy storage allows charging providers to cut off, or drastically lower these menacing demand charges, thereby allowing the stations to operate in the black while still charging reasonable fees. They do so by setting the rate the batteries can recharge from the grid at a lower level, previously negotiated with the utility. Therefore, the utility never gets a spike in the power draw for that location higher than what they can plan for. “Shaving off” the high end of the power demand is valuable to the utilities. They will then lower, or even completely waive demand charges for the location if the high point of the energy draw isn’t too high.

The battery systems will be deployed to mitigate higher power demand charges and manage
operating costs by avoiding or reducing demand and energy charges during peak charging
periods. – Electrify America

The reason we haven’t seen widespread use of battery storage with EV charging sites has been the upfront cost. Network providers have done the math, and it was less expensive to just pay the demand charges, than it would have been to spend $50,000 to $100,000 for the onsite battery storage systems. Hopefully, this announcement means the cost is finally getting down to the point where it is becoming financially viable.

Each Electrify America site in this program will consist of a 210 kW battery system, with roughly 350 kWh of capacity. They have a modular design, and will allow for more capacity to be added over time. That will become necessary, once there are multiple EVs plugging in and pulling 150+ kW at the same location.

The decision for Electrify America to use Tesla’s Powerpack system is a curious one, because Volkswagen, Electrify America’s parent company, has been developing their own energy storage systems. Perhaps it’s because Tesla is so far ahead that Electrify America can’t wait until VW has a commercially-viable product to implement.

Tesla has also said they eventually plan to use energy storage at their Supercharger sites, and has done so in limited locations, but have yet to deploy such systems in any large number.

Categories: Charging, Tesla

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59 Comments on "Electrify America To Add Tesla Powerpacks To 100 New Charging Stations"

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Could also have the benefit of providing DC charging in more remote places that might not have a high current connection to the grid.
i.e. charge the ESS at a lower rate than it can charge an EV.

Cool. I knew they said a lot of sites will get battery storage, and it’s great to see it supposedly happening this year.

I’m kinda hoping the Tesla brand name will be easily visible to customers visiting the charging points, just to rub their noses in it. hehehe.

I think it may actually cause confusion for Tesla owners that see the Tesla name but will not be able to charge. In the US, Mode S/3/X can’t use the CCS plugs.

Tesla Owners are that ???? That they would be confused, By a Simple thing like a Tesla Logo on a Powerpacks, at A CHAdeMO (that they can use, with Tesla’s Adapter, if Model S or X) or CCS Charging Station, that looks Nothing like a Supercharger?

Well, OK, because we saw 1 person trying to “Gas Up” a Model S, all Tesla Owners are just “Duh!” Right! Sure!

Good point. Not every Tesla owner has a CCS adapter.

So they’re buying energy storage from Tesla, so what? Why would customers using Electrify America stations care if it said Tesla on a storage battery near by? I think it’s great that they’re doing business with each other.


Great news and great article to explain Demand Charges

One caveat not mentioned in the article is that the demand charges would not just be for the month incurred, but for up to 6 to 12 months afterwards. If 12 months, the first 6 months could be full demand charges, and the last 6 months could be 50% of full demand charges, or some other sliding scale. Demand charges and their duration vary from utility to utility.

Impartial Observer this isn’t an issue if the station is open every month of the year. I haven’t heard any closing down during certain months.

Unless you have the nutty idea that last month’s demand is added to this month’s demand which is nonsensical.

My utility is the “WORST” in this regard as for large customers (which these things usually are) is that they demand 90% as a minimum. But companies for well over 100 years have lived with such rate schedules. Not a biggie.

I think that might explain why Tesla is ditching free supercharging. I calculate out how much it would cost me (not much), but if Tesla is paying 5 to 10x as much for demand charging I could see it getting expensive quick, and why they wouldn’t want commercial free loaders like they ended up with.

Unrealistic situation, but if I only charged a Model 3 LR using superchargers, 170 miles a shot, for me to drive 300,000 miles would take 1765 charge sessions at 30 minutes each. If those run 0.28/min in my area that is just under $15,000 in electricity (gas would be twice that assuming 25 mpg and $2.50/gallon), that might cost Tesla $75,000 for demand based charging (maybe even $150,000) if they were giving me free supercharge. Wow, no wonder they got rid of it and were only giving 6 to 9 months for referrals.

Sword cuts the other way, too. If some car company with really terrible car wants to give free charging to sucker buyers, they could pay demand charges and others fees for a provider. Then the provider doesn’t care about the customer, just the money from the crap car maker (you can guess who the crap car makers are).

Then in few years when crap car maker decides to cut the cord, either due to better EV or otherwise, the provider is left with high fees and unsustainable business. This is sort of the story of Blink, and I’m afraid others will follow.

This is yet another reason why Free charging SUCKS!!!!!

Without the Powerpack busy stations that use large amounts of fast charging electricity could pay high premiums for electricity.
The powerpack is to used to store electricity at lower use rates and sell it at when demand is high at lower rate.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Busy stations pay less of a premium because they deliver more electricity during a giving period.

It’s _less_ busy stations that benefit most from storage because they’re quiet outside of a few peaks..

High demand during peak times always means higher rates.

Storage is good. The alternative is throttling back the charging rates of those plugged in so as not to exceed max load. Plus if time of use pricing applies the storage can be filled all the way during off peak. Of course off peak will eventually not be off peak if enough storage charging (inside or outside of vehicles)eventually occurs.

In Calif. the peak rate period has shifted later in the day because of solar generation which peaks at +/- noon and then drops off. To get the most value (by offsetting peak price electricity) from your solar system you are now best off with your panels oriented southwest or even south southwest and pitched up more than one would do for total max collection in order to maximize afternoon/late afternoon collection.

Originally the supercharger stations were supposed to be Solar powered. But it seems that hasn’t yet come to fruition.

Doesn’t make sense to make them solar powered until they also have onsite storage though.

Not really true; assuming net-metering, your first priority is to offset the highest cost of electricity with your PV, and then you work downward. The chargers don’t need to be fully self-contained energy islands.

Commercial customers generally don’t get freeloading deals like net metering.

Wrong. IN fact , commercial customers can have a deal known in my state as “REMOTE NET METERING” which is not available to me as a plain old residence customer.

A few have. Looks like supercharge.info shows if they have solar in the details for the SC.

I find it strange that their competition will use their own powerpacks before they do.
They should now add some solar pannels over those chargers and the costs could go down even further.

Some of the Superchargers are using powerpacks.

Some of the Superchargers are using powerpacks.

Yes, it says in the article that some stations from Tesla are using them but on limited locations. Unfortunatelly, Tesla can’t afford to think long term.

Europe doesn’t have it’s own battery cell or battery pack manufacturing facilities that’s why there buying from Korea, and Japan.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Mercedes and BMW begin to use Tesla batteries for there EV’s and that a Gigafactory in Germany will be a joint venture with Mercedes, BMW and Tesla.

That will not happen. All big battery manufacturers are now building “gigafactories” around Europe. Most of them will start production this and the next year.
Battery packs facilities have been around a long time for hybrids and now are expanded for BEVs.

I am very close to the automotive business here in germany. As i know from the german automakers, they build battery plants, but do not cell production. Cells will be imported and bundled into battery packs. (If they can finaly decided what they want. It changes every now and then.)

So there is a chance that a tesla owned gigafactory in Europe which produces cells might deliver to local automanufacturer.

I dont know about the PSA group and Renault though. Maybe they will build a cell production plant.

Then you should know about the previous and current talks about cell production. It is an ongoing process, and the consensus it to wait until technology change to solid state or at least semi solid state batteries. They (the German EV manufacturers) have signed huge battery cell deals with Korean and a Chinese battery manufacturers, that will for at least a few years manufacture battery cells for the EV manufacturers. The contracts are signed, and they have to honor that. There are science projects going on, and there have been designed rough blueprints of a huge factory (collaboration) between several companies. There have been a lot of calculations about the production cost, and the chance cell prices will fall very close to production cost. I’m sure they have studied how the solar industy profit (or the lack there of – due to Chinese companies (state) wanted to dominate the solar industry. Just like the DVD industry and so on. Anyway. . they somehow came to the conclusion that the investment would be huge (need very high volume to reach economy of scale), and the return on the invested capital is smaller then if they invested the same amount on other… Read more »

Tesla batteries are made by Panasonic…which is Japanese.

LG Chem is producing cells in Poland and they began expansion of their factory to supply batteries for approximately 300 000 EVs in 2021.

@Ron M; “Europe doesn’t have it’s own … battery pack manufacturing facilities”

You are ill informed. BMW, Mercedes, VW and Renault all have their own battery manufacturing facilities.

My mistake I should have said that they don’t manufacturer there own battery cells.

Partnership on the horizon?

Dr. Miguelito Loveless

What are your demand fees? We have buildings that pull upwards of 225kW and our demand charge per kW is $4.80 per kW above 30. And that is not a continuous fee, it is based on the highest demand during the month. So, if the highest demand is 250kW, we pay $1,056, plus about 8¢/kWh. If we use 80K kWh, our monthly fee would be 9.32¢/kWh.

Around here it depends on the transmission voltage to the charging station. Every one I have ever seen to date is low voltage (the one by the fremont factory is the exception of course)., so low voltage facilities have to pay the highest demand (around here it is about $11/kw) – but the energy charge is much less than $.08/kwh.

Here, the demand charge is effectively paid from the first 1000 watts. Of course large customers pay a ‘billing charge’ that includes the first 40 kw, for a mere $500. So in the case that happiness I think you’ll agree everyone pays from the very first kw, with the exception that large customers are completely screwed if they totally shut down for a month. Small customers pay a $48 billing charge, which includes the first KW demand – very generous of them!

The economics of DC Fast don’t make sense any way you slice it. It’s necessary for trips, absolutely, but there is no way to scale your way out of the high cost of infrastructure, equipment, installation and maintenance. You can mitigate demand charges with batteries, and that’s great, but charging and discharging batteries is an expensive proposition. Tesla understood immediately that fast charging infrastructure had to be baked into the cost of their cars, and that while they could eventually recoup some of that investment, it would never be (and could never be) a moneymaker. I was baffled by Shell’s investment in Greenlots, and all I could think was that no one involved on Shell’s side of the deal drives an electric car.

I’m fairly certain the likes of Shell/BP did at least a little research before plunking down millions of dollars acquiring said charging network companies. Oil tycoons may be greedy SOBs, but they aren’t stupid.

I wonder if VW/EA is getting any discoun—-er, I mean “pricing adjustments” for a bulk order of powerpacks. 😉

Seems like good business sense to have their battery storage products working in tandem with non-Tesla charging stations. It’s free advertising and gets the name and product in front of non-Tesla EV owners and non-EV psssengers.

The math is way off. At a $1/kW peak charge, you pay $24 for the month for a peak demand of 24kW, plus all the energy you consume at $0.12/kWh. If you have 10 people use your charger in a month for two hours each (and your meter supplies nothing else), you have a $24 demand charge plus $57.60 in energy charges, for a blended cost of $0.17/kWh, compared to a market rate of $0.24/kWh. If you double your utilization of the charger then your cost drops below $0.15.

On-site storage is most useful for time-shifting on-peak demand to off-peak energy. A secondary benefit is that if your gas station has a 200A 120/208V service and a peak demand of 40kW, the storage will help you avoid needing to upgrade the service. It can also buffer on-site solar generation, but for net metering that is a limited benefit until the off-peak rates change to times without sunshine.

I was thinking the math was off. I had looked into this in BC, and we have similar rules to what you suggest above in pricing. The sites that can’t make money are the ones with only 1 unit and very little utilization. The peak demand charge is per month based on how high the kW surged above a set level. kWh dispensed is independent, and more kWh dispensed to vehicles spreads the fixed cost of the demand charge among the kWh dispensed.

Ontario , Canada is a bit different – they only START to charge demand at 50 kw. Whereas across the border in Buffalo, NY – some customers with as low as 3 kw connected load pay demand charges.

Patrick, $1/kW demand charge is laughably low. $10-15 is pretty common, though I’ve seen both lower and higher.

Time shifting is not that useful to commercial customers, but demand smoothing is a big deal. Lots of companies make money working with commercial customers to shave their peaks.

Doggydogworld: ” Time shifting is not that useful to commercial customers”. –>> That is nonsense.

Brine storage wouldn’t be used for chilled water plants other than to cool the brine during the night time so that less compressor usage is needed during the High-cost portions of the day.

My town’s water towers are filled at night to take advantage of cheap electricity during the time and are allowed to drain during the day and evening, requiring less pumping during those times as would otherwise be required.

Patrick in this case YOUR math is off – Tom’s costs are more like it in real life.

Peter Sanktjohanser, Germany

A smart decission as the demand for charging increases and at certain Occasions the supply could be leveraged

Thanks for the article and telling us about your experience wrangling with the utility. Not so fun stuff. I appreciate learning about it.