Managed Charging Experiences form Avista Utilities: A Snapshot of the EVSE Program

Managed charging, though still in the early stages and being studied and refined across utilities and research organizations, is on the rise. The Smart Electric Power Alliance has done great research on the topic aggregating best practices and research results.  Located in the Pacific Northwest, an area that has been electric vehicle friendly and with growing adoption rates, Avista Utilities serves 600,000 electric customers across 30,000 square miles across eastern Washington, northern Idaho and part of Oregon.

With that in mind the utility has taken up the electric charging mantle and believes in understanding charging habits before the grid is flooded with a larger number of EVs. Understanding charging habits now, means more of a chance to make adjustments through software systems and notifications on day ahead and real time pricing alerting Avista’s customer base on optimal time to charge their vehicles.

Some highlights from the company’s EVSE Pilot Program include: 

Goal: Deploying managed charging with minimal customer disruptions.

Structure of Program: Demand response events with day ahead notifications on and the ability for pilot participants to opt-out.

Results: Avista was able to successfully shift electric vehicle charging loads to off-peak hours with a load curtailment figure achieved of 75%.

Challenges: Managed charging programs require constant two way communications between the utility and the charging status of the vehicle. This particular pilot was plagued with Wi-Fi issues and glitches with the monitoring devices that rendered them off-line 30-45% of the time. From a cost perspective however Avista is still working to understand what level of EV penetration will necessitate a full-scale managed charging program.

Mike Vervair, Avista EV engineer summed up the pilot well and managed charging overall ““As long as the vehicle is fully charged when they need it, customers don’t care when the load is being shifted” 

 

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