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Utility partnerships with the automotive sector: How electric … – Utility Dive

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Electric vehicles could drive a 38% rise in U.S. electricity consumption by 2050. To prepare, utilities and other energy companies are partnering with auto manufacturers and other stakeholders to explore how to manage grid stress, use EVs as distributed resources and ensure customers make the transition to electric transportation smoothly.
Utility Dive is tracking these partnerships, which span a range of subject areas that include managed charging, vehicle-to-grid integration and customer outreach.
The following announcements represent a sample of such collaborations. While this tracker is not intended to be comprehensive, we will update it with news about notable partnerships. Contact Robert Walton if you know of announcements that should be included.
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Vermont’s Green Mountain Power in August announced it would partner with Motor, a company working with utilities to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, to help customers make the switch.
The Try-an-EV program allows customers to select a vehicle, schedule delivery, have a Level 2 charger installed in their home and be enrolled in GMP’s EV rate plans, all through a single signup and monthly fee.
Customers can receive a free Level 2 charger from GMP, with installation coordinated by Motor. Monthly packages also include insurance and maintenance and other fees, though not the electricity to power the vehicle. Motor’s partnership with GMP is slated to run for an initial 18 months and is not included in the utility’s rates.
Salt River Project in June announced it would work with charging services company Qmerit to install Level 2 EV chargers in customer homes. The program “takes the guesswork out of coordinating an affordable and professional home installation,” the utility said.
In order to accomodate a Level 2 charger, some SRP customers may need a 240-volt connection added to their home. Through the utility’s website, customers can connect with a “Qmerit expert who will gather information about their home and charging needs, then provide an upfront pricing estimate and connect them with a certified installer for a custom proposal.”
Pacific Gas & Electric began working with BWM in 2015 on a smart-charging pilot and over the years they have continued that work. In May, the two companies announced they would expand their partnership to also study an EV’s potential to send power back to the electric grid or to power a home or other building.
BMW and PG&E plan to test vehicle-to-grid applications in a field trial at a BMW facility in Mountain View, California, and other applications at PG&E’s Applied Technology Services Lab in San Ramon.
Con Edison and Orange & Rockland in April announced electric vehicle charging software company will manage their new smart charging program, SmartCharge New York.
The program will provide “cash incentives to EV drivers who charge their vehicles in Con Edison and Orange & Rockland’s service areas,” the charging company said in an announcement. “With more than 5,000 vehicles already enrolled in the program, SmartCharge New York is currently the largest EV charging program in the U.S. and paves the way for New York State to meet its clean transportation goals.”
Virtual power plant developer Sunverge and power management company Eaton in March announced they would expand their strategic collaboration helping utilities manage residential electric vehicle charging.
Eaton’s powerful EV charging and smart breaker technologies provide a platform for utilities to manage and harvest real-time load flexibility behind the meter,” Sunverge CEO Martin Milani said in a statement.
The partnership will work with utilities to “realize significant upstream gains through real-time [distributed energy resource] orchestration, aggregation, and dynamic load management and co-optimization on both sides of the meter,” Milani said. “The result will be increased grid resiliency and overall greater system flexibility and reliability, a win-win for utilities and customers alike.”
In February, Duke Energy announced plans to construct a “first-of-its-kind performance center” to model and accelerate the development, testing and deployment of medium- and heavy-duty commercial electric vehicle fleets.
The site is planned for Duke Energy’s Mount Holly Technology and Innovation Center and will incorporate microgrid integration. Duke will partner with Electrada, an electric fuel solutions company, and Daimler Truck North America, on the fleet electrification research.
Daimler has a manufacturing facility located adjacent to the center, and Duke said the proximity “creates an ideal opportunity to utilize the chargers at the site and also demonstrate charging technologies to customers visiting the plant in the future.”
BP in February announced a $1 billion investment in EV charging, and a partnership with Hertz to deploy charging infrastructure to the rental company’s locations in major cities across the U.S.
A number of the fast-charging installations will include “gigahubs locations,” the company said. “The hubs will serve rideshare and taxi drivers, car rental customers and the general public at high-demand locations, such as airports. The buildout will be informed by telematics from Hertz’s fleet of connected cars.”
BP said it had about 22,000 EV charge points worldwide as of February, and plans for more than 100,000 globally by 2030.
Oncor Electric Delivery and Toyota Motor North America in December announced they would collaborate on a pilot focused on vehicle-to-grid  pilot technology. The effort is Toyota’s first collaboration with a public utility.
The companies agreed to an initial research project that will use Oncor’s microgrid testing facility in south Dallas, near Toyota’s U.S. headquarters. The microgrid is composed of four interconnected microgrids and includes a V2G charger, solar panels and battery storage. Toyota and Oncor said they want to “better understand the interconnectivity between [battery electric vehicles] and utilities.”
“The results from the research will allow Toyota and Oncor to be better prepared to support the broader EV charging ecosystem in the United States. Further, these efforts will allow Toyota to elevate the customer experience for Toyota BEV customers, accelerate efforts in carbon neutrality and provide advances in business opportunities,” the companies said.
Arizona Public Service in November announced a collaboration with white-label software and data company ZappyRide to help customers make informed decisions regarding an electric vehicle purchase.
The arrangement includes a “comprehensive cost of ownership tool [and] will provide customers in APS’ service territory with access to detailed information on the total cost of owning and running an electric vehicle, taking into consideration current rates applicable to their area,” the companies said.
“The overall cost is calculated based on the customer's individual utility rate structure,” they said. “As the demand for electric vehicles continues to grow in Arizona, this partnership between APS and ZappyRide represents a major step forward in helping consumers better understand their cost of ownership before making a decision.” 
In October, Consolidated Edison and GM Energy, a new energy management business unit of General Motors, announced they would collaborate on a “pilot study to test the ability of electric vehicle (EV) chargers and other customer-owned equipment to record energy usage so the information can be used to measure charging activity and behavior.”
The companies said the pilot would “evaluate the ability of EV chargers and other equipment to distinguish between electricity used to charge a vehicle and power that’s used simultaneously for other purposes by the same customer – an emerging technology known as load disaggregation.”
Baltimore Gas and Electric partnered with ride-sharing giant Lyft in July 2022 to help drivers in Maryland go electric. The state wants to have 300,000 zero-emission vehicles on its roads by 2025.
BGE and Lyft planned to provide 25 Kia Niro EVs for Lyft drivers in the greater Baltimore area to rent through Lyft’s Flexdrive Platform. The collaboration receives partial funding through a U.S. Department of Energy community program grant, provided by the Mid-Atlantic Electrification Partnership.
“BGE includes educational materials within the vehicles to provide customers with helpful details on the benefits of driving electric,” the utility said. Those materials highlight the “impact on the environment, EV charger accessibility, and cost-savings compared to a gas vehicle. In addition, passengers can access BGE’s EV Calculator to help them compare their current gas vehicle to a variety of electric vehicles.”
Florida Power & Light in June 2022 selected Enel X Way to support its residential EV charging program. For a fixed fee, eligible FPL customers receive a Level 2 smart charger and unlimited off-peak renewable electricity for charging.
Customers must own or lease an EV, live in a single-family home with an attached garage, and have access to wireless internet in the charging location.
The U.S. Department of Energy in April 2022 announced a consortium of utilities, automakers and other stakeholders had signed a vehicle-to-everything, or V2X, memorandum of understanding “to evaluate technical and economic feasibility as we integrate bidirectional charging into energy infrastructure.”
“The MOU will also advance cybersecurity as a core component of V2X charging infrastructure,” DOE said.
Utility participants include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Pacific Gas & Electric, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison. Other participants include the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, Fermata Energy, Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Nissan.
Pacific Gas & Electric and General Motors in March 2022 announced a “breakthrough collaboration to pilot the use of GM electric vehicles as on-demand power sources for homes in PG&E’s service area.”
The two parties said they planned to test vehicles with bidirectional charging technology “that can help safely power the essential needs of a properly equipped home.” The pilot includes multiple GM EVs.
“The pilot will include the use of bidirectional hardware coupled with software-defined communications protocols that will enable power to flow from a charged EV into a customer’s home, automatically coordinating between the EV, home, and PG&E’s electric supply,” the two companies said.
Pacific Gas & Electric and Ford Motor Co. in March 2022 announced a collaboration to explore how Ford’s F-150 Lightning electric vehicle “can interact with the electric grid and provide electric reliability benefits to PG&E customers.”
The utility and automaker said they planned to test the F-150 and “its Intelligent Backup Power bidirectional charging capabilities in providing backup power for customers’ homes in PG&E’s service area.”
The two parties said the truck can give customers the ability to use bidirectional power to provide up to 10 days of power to their homes during an outage.
NextEra Energy Resources, BlackRock Renewable Power and Daimler Truck North America in January 2022 announced they had signed a memorandum of understanding to consider designing, developing, installing and operating a “nationwide, high-performance charging network for medium- and heavy-duty battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the U.S.”
The three parties were expected to provide $650 million of startup funding, equally divided among them.
“Initial focus will be on battery electric medium- and heavy-duty vehicles followed by hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell trucks; the sites will also be available for light-duty vehicles to serve the greater goal of electrifying mobility,” the trio said in a press release.
Consolidated Edison has been working with FLO, a provider of EV charging networks, since 2021 to bring curbside charging to New York City. Also partnering on the offering is the New York City Department of Transportation.
"Convenient curbside charging for EVs is a game-changer especially for those without access to private parking and charging ports," Lenny Singh, at the time senior vice president of Con Edison’s Customer Energy Solutions, said in a June 24, 2021, statement. Singh is now chairman and president of Ameren Illinois.
 "We’re working closely with the city and state to make it easier for all New Yorkers to replace gas-powered cars with zero-emission electric vehicles,” he said.
In 2021, Peninsula Clean Energy partnered with Flexdrive, an independently managed subsidiary of Lyft, to trade grid data for subsidized vehicle rentals. PCE is subsidizing the cost of 100 EVs that drivers can rent from Flexdrive, ensuring they are the same cost as a hybrid vehicle and providing free charging.
PCE is a community choice aggregator operating in San Mateo County, California, with a goal of providing 100% clean energy by 2025. Pacific Gas and Electric delivers the electricity, but under California’s CCA model, the provider is tasked with ensuring the supply.
The partnership with Lyft has helped to identify hours where delivering all clean energy to customers can be a challenge.
We might want to explore alternatives to having folks doing mass fast charging during those hours,” said Phillip Kobernick, PCE’s senior transportation programs manager. Alternatives could include incentives for off-peak charging or battery swapping, he said.
Sunrun partnered with Ford Motor Co. in May 2021 to “serve as the preferred installer for Ford Intelligent Backup Power,” which debuted on the F-150 Lightning.
“Sunrun will facilitate easy installation of the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and home integration system,” the companies said. The F-150 Lightning will be capable of supplying backup power to the home in the event of an outage.
“Through this partnership, customers will also be provided with the opportunity to install a solar and battery system on their home, enabling them to power their household with clean, affordable energy and charge their F-150 Lightning with the power of the sun,” the companies said.
Dominion Energy has been working with Virginia bus dealership Sonny Merryman since 2019 to help schools purchase and utilize electric buses.
Dominion has multiple partnerships in the EV space but the “largest and most fully implemented” is its work with Sonny Merryman, said Kate Staples, the utility’s director of electrification. Under the program, Dominion installs, owns and maintains the charging infrastructure for the school districts and also owns the batteries on the school buses.
Sonny Merryman and Dominion work together on designing charging sites and installing the chargers. There are also site visits to discuss customer locations and needs and how the dealership and utility can support those aspirations.
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