Avangrid strives to turn electric vehicles into a grid resource in Connecticut, New York

Diving Brief:

  • Subsidiary of Avangrid United Illuminating plans to have 3,000 electric vehicles in its Connecticut territory by 2024 and is working with bidgely to use them as a network resource and avoid generating higher peak demand when under load, Avangrid officials said.
  • Avangrid says it is developing a similar program in New York and is still in the process of selecting a long-term supplier in both states. His work with Bidgely comes under a one-year partnership announced in May.
  • The biggest challenge in serving EV charging will be integrating new demand in a way that doesn’t drive higher peak demand, Charles Spence, Avangrid head of customer programs and products, said in a July discussion about his load management efforts with Bidgely.

Overview of the dive:

Connecticut ended 2021 with about 21,000 VE registered in the state, but its long-term transportation strategy calls for 500,000 by 2030. As the number of plug-in vehicles in its service territories grows, Avangrid sees three main barriers to harnessing them as a network, Spence said.

“The biggest challenge is obviously integrating that loadout,” Spence said. “We just see an incredible number of vehicles, [and] these vehicles can all consume 60kWh if fully expended and recharged in one day. This is usually what the whole house uses.

This load must be integrated based on volume as well as timing, he said, to avoid a surge in demand when residential customers return home at night and plug in their vehicles. Avangrid’s demand response managed charging program in Connecticut is helping, but other challenges include accommodating customers’ varied technology preferences for vehicles and chargers, and ensuring that investments and the incentives are properly sized.

“Making sure that we don’t overpay people, but on the other hand, [they] aren’t paid so little that they’re not interested in participating,” Spence said.

Avangrid, like the rest of the utility industry, is still developing best practices for using electric vehicles as demand response assets, Spence said. Needs may vary from one territory to another, and between more and less constrained circuits, he specified.

In the first year of its program in Connecticut, Avangrid could call up to 15 demand response events per month where it checks customers’ EV chargers to reduce grid stress. Customers can withdraw from events.

“I doubt we’ll ever really call that many…it’s pretty heavy,” Spence said. But the flexibility to call more events allows the utility to test whether customer attendance declines over time. The utility is also able to use its extensive network of advanced metering infrastructure in Connecticut to identify customers who have EVs but are not yet participating in a demand response program, or to better interact with registered customers who do not participate.

Avangrid is still developing its program and doesn’t yet have a clear indication of how big of a demand-response resource EVs may be, Spence said.

“We will have a better idea of ​​this total resource after the first year of the program where we collected data on participation and collated learnings,” Spence said in an email. “At this point, we will be able to better estimate things like: the average battery size of the participating electric vehicles, the average participation per participant in terms of the load that can be reduced, and the reliability of the resource as a whole.”

“The resource is growing and we expect it to be a substantial flexible resource over time,” Spence said.

Avangrid is working to develop a similar program in New York and in June filed a revised managed pricing proposal with state regulators for its New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas and Electric subsidiaries.

While the New York programs are larger than Avangrid’s efforts in Connecticut, “it will end up being a very similar program, both in terms of what regulators have assigned to utilities in the State, but also the type of program that we implement,” said Spence.

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