Xcel pilot to keep EV charging in sync with grid

  • October 19, 2021
  • Steve Rogerson

Xcel Energy has announced a pilot with five car makers to make it easier for consumers to switch to electric vehicles in Colorado and charge their EVs when renewable energy production is high and demand on the energy grid is low.

Through its Charging Perks pilot, Xcel is directly working with BMW, Ford, General Motors and Honda to test how the company can help drivers charge their EVs at times when they can save money, use more renewable energy, and when it is most optimal for the energy grid.

Xcel Energy initially launched the Charging Perks pilot for Tesla in June 2021. The pilot programme will include up to 600 EV drivers in Colorado.

“Achieving our EV vision to have 1.5 million vehicles on the road in the eight states we serve by 2030 will require unique partnerships and programmes,” said Alice Jackson, president of Xcel Energy in Colorado. “This is one of the first smart charging projects between an energy company and multiple automakers and I believe represents a major opportunity to help our customers do even more to reduce their carbon footprint. We’re excited because this pilot enables new paths to help manage the grid as we move to increase renewable generation on our system to approximately 80% by 2030.”

Xcel will work with the car makers to manage when vehicles charge remotely by using on-board communications, smart phone apps and customer web sites, making smart charging easy for consumers. Car makers will use information from the customer and their vehicle, pairing it with grid information from Xcel to create a charging schedule that ensures a vehicle is ready when they need it while also charging at the best times for the energy grid. Drivers will receive up to $300 for enrolling and participating in the pilot.

“BMW is excited to partner with Xcel Energy in creating a win-win for the electricity grid and electric vehicles that accelerates a clean energy future for both industries,” said Adam Langton, energy services manager for BMW in North America. “Our objective is to make sustainability a core component not just of our vehicles, but of every element from design to engineering, supply chain to manufacturing. This holistic approach to sustainability also extends to the electricity that goes into our cars, and we’re very happy that this collaboration brings our digital smart charging software, BMW ChargeForward, to BMW electric vehicle drivers in the Xcel Energy territory.”

Matt Stover, Ford’s director of charging and energy services, added: “As thousands of new electric vehicle customers in Colorado and across the country start plugging in to the grid, smartly managing charging is going to be critical to ensure a smooth transition to an EV lifestyle. Working with innovative utilities like Xcel Energy will help both all-electric and plug-in hybrid customers manage their charging impact on the grid and use more renewable energy with no extra effort on their part, saving them money in the process and helping even more consumers realise the endless benefits of driving an EV.”

And Alex Keros, lead architect of EV infrastructure and charging at General Motors, said: “GM is committed to putting everyone in an EV and working with electric utilities is an important aspect of this commitment. We’re excited to work with Xcel Energy to bring this smart grid pilot programme to our EV customers in Colorado. As we bring 30 new EVs to market globally by 2025, we believe programmes like this can simultaneously benefit adoption, the grid and the environment.”

Mariano Hernandez, energy business engineer at Honda, said: “Honda shares Xcel Energy’s vision of a zero-carbon future, for both electricity and transportation. Xcel Energy’s Charging Perks programme and flexible charging schedule enable Honda Clarity customers to maximise their use of renewable energy. We’re proud to work with Xcel Energy to make this programme available to our Clarity customers through the HondaLink app.”

Xcel will use this pilot to evaluate and learn about smart charging technology and programme design before launching a full programme where many more EV customers will be eligible to participate. Xcel has actively participated in research and demonstrations with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to advance electric transportation for many years. EPRI is a close contributor and collaborator in the automotive-utility industry and the creation of the Xcel portal that allows operational engagement with the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform is an example of this collaboration.

The Charging Perks Pilot is one of several initiatives Xcel is working on as part of its EV vision. This year, Xcel Energy has released a suite of programmes to help residential and commercial users make the transition to electric vehicles and lower certain costs.

Headquartered in Minneapolis, Xcel Energy provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight western and midwestern states.