Itron Inc., in conjunction with DTE Energy Co., and Comverge Inc., have announced the ability of Itron’s OpenWay smart grid technology to help the utility investigate the effect of plug-in electric vehicle charging on its operations. This collaboration will help extend the value of the smart grid by giving consumers a mechanism for participation.
The functionality was proven as part of a recent technical demonstration by DTE Energy as part of The Business of Plugging In: A Plug-In Electric Vehicle Conference held in Detroit. At the conference, the OpenWay system processed load control events issued from Comverge’s Web-based demand management software platform, Apollo, to a PEV and disabled charging for the duration included in the message. OpenWay was also able to process pricing messages from Apollo. When pricing exceeded a designated threshold, the PEV ceased charging until the final price fell below threshold, upon which it resumed charging.
In order for consumers to understand their electricity usage and the impact of charging their PEV, a utility’s smart grid system must be able to track the total amount of electricity consumed in a billing period and precisely when that electricity was used. This time based tracking is referred to as interval data or load profiling and is a core capability of the OpenWay system.
“Since the future supply-demand balance requires addressing both sides of the equation, the smart grid must provide the mechanism for participation by consumers,” said Bill Cloutier, AMI manager for DTE Energy. “Working jointly with Itron and Comverge, we now have a more realistic picture of how PEVs may affect our grid. The goal is to test this new technology and share the information with our customers, providing them the opportunity to make more informed decisions about how and when they charge their PEVs and ultimately how they can use the information to lower their electric bill.”
The integration relies on the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile, allowing for seamless communication between the utility and PEVs, without the need for a broadband connection. In this case, the PEV was equipped with charging controls that contain a ZigBee card to enable meter-to-car communication.
Itron is providing DTE Energy with OpenWay smart grid technology to automate a total of 2.6 million electric meters and 700,000 natural gas meters over the next six years.