San Diego Gas & Electric Integrates Electric Cars Into California’s Wholesale Energy Market

MAR 30 2015 BY MARK KANE 9



San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) announced a pilot project integrating electric cars and energy storage systems with California’s wholesale energy markets.

We don’t know the details, but there will be a group of energy storage systems and electric vehicle fleets at five separate locations, available for California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO). The first step for EVs is remote control of charging to avoid electricity peak demand.

There are over 13,000 plug-in electric cars in SDG&E’s service territory and, since the number of EVs is growing, charging power will be an important factor one day.

“The project currently aggregates stationary storage systems together with the charging demand of EV fleets at five separate locations throughout San Diego County. The assets are remotely controlled using software that both balances the participant’s charging needs, and identifies opportunities to provide demand response services at the grid level. Demand response is when customers don’t charge EVs or consume energy at peak hours, which alleviates stress on the grid and helps make sure adequate resources are available for the entire region. The project achieves this by correlating charging activity with wholesale energy prices. By agreeing to not charge in certain high price hours, the aggregated resource is paid the marginal energy price in those hours, similar to a conventional generator. The pilot project will end in late 2015.

Besides being among the first to integrate electric vehicles into California’s energy markets, the project is identifying both barriers and best practices for future, large scale integration and interaction of dispatchable distributed energy resources with wholesale markets, and creating tools to evaluate growth opportunities for those resources.”

James P. Avery, SDG&E’s senior vice president of power supply stated:

“This pilot project emphasizes SDG&E’s focus on innovation in the electric vehicle and energy storage sectors. There is tremendous potential for dispatchable distributed energy resources to enhance reliability and achieve greater efficiencies. The key to unlocking that potential is to better understand how these resources provide value both at the customer site level and at the larger electric grid level. This project does just that.”

“Creating a framework for small, aggregated resources to directly participate in energy markets is a natural evolution of SDG&E’s earlier, pioneering efforts at the San Diego Zoo and Borrego Springs Microgrid. Those innovative projects demonstrated that aggregating diverse resources like solar, energy storage and EVs, created efficiencies and enhanced reliability.”

Heather Sanders, the CAISO’s Director of Regulatory Affairs for Distributed Energy Resources remarked:

“This pilot creates an important connection between actual grid conditions and customer response. By having electric vehicles directly participate as a grid resource in the wholesale market, vehicles respond to signals from the grid operator to reduce when electricity is scarce, and continue or resume charging when renewable generation is plentiful. This capability helps maximize the use of energy from renewables while keeping the grid reliable.”

Interesting is that SDG&E is in close collaboration with its project partner, Shell Oil Products US (Shell).

Matthew Tipper, VP Alternative Energies, Shell commented:

“This is a key achievement in our Electric Vehicle R&D trial in San Diego and an important milestone for our partnership with SDG&E. The trial is one of a number of trials globally with selected fleet customers as they diversify their mix of vehicles. It is important for us to understand if electric mobility can be made commercially viable for Shell within our wider alternative energy portfolio.”

Source: SDG&E via Green Car Congress

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9 Comments on "San Diego Gas & Electric Integrates Electric Cars Into California’s Wholesale Energy Market"

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I really want to see more Utilities pushing for EV adoption. EVs provide utilities a great opportunity to sell power during the night when they have massive amounts of unused capacity.

And EVs will help provide some new demand to replace the demand that will be lost to people installing solar PV. Right now there is far more rooftop solar PV installations than EVs sold. We need more EVs sold to help balance that out.

Utilities have regulatory constraints most people aren’t aware of. They’d all love to have more EVs on the road.

True . . . but as this story shows, obviously they can do some things to push EVs. And every now & then we hear about a new EVSE installation incentive.

But I betcha that a lot of Solar PV users are also BEV/PHEV users too.

All the major California regulated public utilities have been trying to crack the veil of their service ending at the meter.

Just remember “regulated monopoly” with a guaranteed profit when they come knocking on your door.

Even if you think electric utilities are evil (or semi-evil [g])because they’re monopolies, it’s still good for everyone to reduce peak electricity usage. And at worst, decreasing the unused night-time capacity should make it harder for utilities to get approval to raise rates.

Isn’t that a win-win for everyone… except coal and natural gas sellers?

It cannot be overstated how important it is for ISO’s not to trip new peaks. Getting paid as a demand responder works, as would a voluntary program to turn around and supply $1/kwh back to a V2G network. These peak times are momentary. We flinch at having our batteries soaked down, but at a given rate and price I’d consider.

At the rate solar is being installed in Ca, the utilities will have to change their time of day rate structures. Peak demand won’t happen in the early afternoon anymore….remember the article on the “Duck Bill” effect? There will soon be a surplus of electricity at peak solar output times.

California seems like an entirely different country to me.

Here in the EV wilderness of western Pennsylvania, it’s literally months between seeing another Leaf on the road, and my electric utility offers one price day or night (although it is cheap). Selling my car’s power to them would be laughable.