BMW and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) are partnering on a new program that will allow plug-in electric car owners the opportunity to help create a more stable and sustainable power grid. BMW was selected to manage a minimum of 100 kilowatts of electric demand on PG&E’s system as part of the utility’s demand response programs. The programs improve reliability and lower energy costs by working with customers to cut usage during periods of high peak demand.

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Owners of the new BMW i3 electric vehicle will have the opportunity to participate in a program aimed at stabilizing the energy grid. Credit: BMW.

BMW will help PG&E in two main ways. First, a large energy storage unit will be created at the BMW Group Technology Office in Mountain View, CA using lithium-ion batteries that were once installed in MINI E demonstration vehicles. These “second life” batteries serve to absorb energy when demand is low and release it at times of higher need.

Second, a group of 100 consumers of the new BMW i3 electric vehicle will be recruited to participate in the BMW i Charge Forward Program. As a part of this program, customers will participate in a pilot by PG&E to help stabilize customer demand. In times of high energy demand, participants will be notified by text message when their vehicle has been selected for delayed charging and can choose to opt out of the request based on their needs, allowing their vehicle to continue charging uninterrupted. Utility companies will provide drivers with incentives for their participation in the management of electric vehicle charge times, possibly offsetting the cost of home charging station installation.

Participants in the program will receive incentives including an initial $1,000, then an additional reward of up to $540 at the end of the program based on their level of participation in Demand Response events and their completion of surveys and questionnaires.

The goal of the program is to make electric vehicles more attractive by reducing the cost of ownership while integrating renewable energy into the grid, and extending BMW’s commitment to sustainability.

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