Michigan Will Begin Testing How Plug-in Hybrid Cars Will Effect Them ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: Michigan Will Begin Testing How Plug-in Hybrid Cars Will Effect Them

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Michigan Will Begin Testing How Plug-in Hybrid Cars Will Effect Them

Michigan MapMichigan is making plans to test plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) because they are worried about the strain they may place on the electrical grid if they were adopted in mass numbers. Although they aren't the first to study how plug-ins could affect the electric grid (See Google's efforts and the Dept of Energy Study on how massive adoption of PHEVs would be OK), the state of Michigan has an obvious need to study any new developments in vehicle technology and how it will alter the state infrastructure.

"This could radically alter what's happening with the electric grid, so it's important to take a look at this," spokeswoman Judy Palnau said.

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) is starting a pilot program and is asking for others to join in the study. They are looking for electric companies, automakers, customer advocacy groups and the public to help them in their study.

They want to look into how the cars take power off the grid, but also want to investigate how plug-in cars could be used as storage in a 'smart grid.' By plugging in overnight to charge, the cars take electricity during low usage hours. The driver would then take their car in to work (or a public parking spot?) and then plug it back in to a special vehicle-to-grid (V2G) plug designed to draw power out of the car battery during peak hours.

Not only would that reduce the strain on the electric companies, it could end up putting money into the driver's pocket. By buying the electricity during low peak hours and selling it back during high peak hours, the exchange rate should be favorable towards the driver.

The first report will be due at the end of June, 2009.

The MPSC Press Release Follows:

The Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) today initiated a pilot program designed to integrate plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) into Michigan's electric grid, positioning the state to become a leader in this technology. The pilot program will be part of the MPSC's ongoing smart grid collaborative.

"As the automotive leader of the world, Michigan is uniquely equipped to lead the effort to integrate plug-in hybrid vehicles into its electric grid," said MPSC Chairman Orjiakor Isiogu, a member of the Smart Grid Collaborative effort between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). "The widespread adoption of PHEVs has the potential to significantly reduce gasoline consumption, while reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions produced in the state.

"The success of plug-in hybrid vehicles is dependent on the deployment of intelligent grid technology. So, this represents a unique opportunity for Michigan's electric utilities to expand sales, without contributing to system peak, while simultaneously reducing the overall level of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation and utility sectors.

"In addition, PHEV technology can help expand Michigan's role as the world's center of automotive production and design and engineering excellence, resulting in more high-paying jobs and economic growth."

PHEV technology also has the potential to provide peak load power during high demand periods, if a utility's electric distribution system provides vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability through smart grid technologies.

The Commission notes that achieving a high penetration of PHEVs that retains the stability of the electric grid is dependent on smart grid infrastructure research and development. Therefore, the MPSC in today's order is requiring all regulated electric distribution companies to participate in the smart grid collaborative, expanded by today's order to include PHEV pilot projects. The MPSC encourages other interested parties to participate as well.

In particular, the PHEV aspect of the smart grid collaborative will include:

* Using actual vehicles, some of which incorporate V2G systems, if and when available
* Analyzing the environmental effects in Michigan of PHEVs at low, medium and high levels of adoption, with and without V2G capability
* Analyzing the effect of PHEVs on Michigan utility and regional electric system load duration curves and the effect of PHEV market penetration on generation mix and capacity requirements
* Analyzing the technical issues related to the participation of V2G in the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operators' ancillary services market.
* Analyzing meter and time-based pricing policies for electricity used to charge electric vehicles

Today's order directs the MPSC staff to submit annual reports on the status of the PHEV collaborative, with the first report due by June 30, 2009. Interim reports may be filed, as appropriate.

The Commission encourages transmission providers, customers and customer groups, Michigan universities and colleges, automotive manufacturers and suppliers, and other electric industry stakeholders to participate in the collaborative.

Written comments may also be filed with the Commission. Comments may be e-mailed to mpscedockets@michigan.gov. Written comments should be mailed to the Executive Secretary, Michigan Public Service Commission, P.O. Box 30221, Lansing, MI 48909.

The MPSC is an agency within the Department of Labor & Economic Growth

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