Role and Resources
Utility companies are carefully watching the proliferation of plug-in electric vehicles. Today, they encourage drivers to recharge EVs at night when the utility has adequate generating capability and both demand and rates are lower. However, in the event EVs become much more common, utility companies also need to consider scenarios where many or most drivers recharge their cars during the day. Should this happen, utilities would need to generate or purchase extra electricity when it is most costly.
Some utility companies have invested in “smart” electrical meters that allow them and their customers to track power use by purpose and time of day. These meters facilitate variable rates for electricity, allowing companies to charge more during peak demand times and less at night.
Government regulations and funding are encouraging the development of strategies, technologies and standards for a more energy efficient electric grid. The Department of Energy has chartered the National Institute of Standards and Technology to coordinate the implementation of the Smart Grid Roadmap and Architecture. The NIST Smart Grid Interoperability Collaboration is defining the requirements, specifications and standards for more effective grid integration and control systems. Electric transportation smart grid interface standards, including EV load measurements, monitoring, communications and control are being addressed as part of this effort. Smart grid technologies and standards are still in the development phase, with implementation planned over the coming years.