I ran across this article on Yahoo! today which they reposted from Scientific American.
The cliff notes are as follows:
GM recognized that if people all come home and plug their EV in at the same time, and there are a lot of EVs it could cause problems for the grid.
GM is spearheading a study to see if they can do some load shifting to get the cars to charge at off peak times. They have arranged for a neighborhood of 60 homes to have Chevy Volts.
They are doing it the old fashioned way by centrally controlling when the charging is done. I.e. externally sending a signal to the charging station as to when to do the charging.
Well this is a start anyway. Its just so 1980’s. Demand response is usually an opt-in and those who opt in get some monetary compensation because they save the utility money by reducing its need to provide peaking power. In this case they are only testing the demand response from a technical standpoint in terms of reducing stress to the grid. The inducement is that the people get a Volt at half price!
However, the better way to do this, and this is what the Smart Grid could be, is to charge time of use rates to all electricity buyers and pay it to all sellers. Then have the chargers set up so that you can program them for the rate you are willing to pay for electricity. This gives the customer full control over when their car is charged. This also translates to sellers. For example, if you have an EV, theoretically you can sell back into the grid and people are testing this concept known as V2G for vehicle to grid. With an EV your battery only has a limited number of charge cycles so you would only sell back to the grid if there was a huge demand spike. At that point the spot price of electricity skyrockets and even with the high price you would charge, the grid operator is a willing buyer and you a willing seller. The road map for batteries suggests that they are going to get much less expensive in the next couple of decades, right in time to phase out nukes and fossil fuel power.