Orchestration of energy could help avoid rolling blackouts from electric cars

Last week, The New York Observer grabbed our attention after publishing an intriguing piece titled “Electric Car Drivers Could Throw America Into Rolling Blackouts”. The article, authored by Brady Dale, highlighted how the growth in electric vehicle (EV) sales and even a mere 10% growth in adopting electric corporate fleets will create imbalances in the power grid, events that could compare in size to the great Northeastern Blackout of 2003. That notable power grid failure impacted 8 states in the Northeast and Midwest and caused over 45 million people to be without power and $6 billion in estimated financial damage in what was deemed the biggest North American blackout in history. 

While Dales’s article suggests a possible solution to the EV induced growing stress on the power grid could be a nifty battery pack filled with string cells manufactured by TankTwo which could “top up a charge in three minutes and even add more battery when needed”, we staunchly believe energy analytics could be a huge benefit to utilities when it comes to keeping the lights on and avoiding grid failure from EVs. 

As Dale’s piece cited, “All of this hinges on the fact that there’s this ample gap between the price of electricity during the day and during the night. At a certain point, of course, if enough drivers ditch petrol and battery swapping becomes widespread, then the grid will run at capacity all the time and the price differences between day and night will have become negligible.”  This means there is a critical need for utilities to stay “in the know” and define the journey for today’s residential energy customer through behavioral usage patterns especially since most EV charging takes place at the home.

Whether you agree or not you agree, the personalization of energy is happening at warp speed and greater stress on the grid will only become more and more evident as EV prices drop further and higher amounts of charging at all hours becomes simply unavoidable. 

There is no doubt consumers have a bigger voice when it comes to their energy usage these days, but smart thermostats and nudging down power use will only go so far. This opens the door for utilities to tap energy analytics as a means to to help utilities offer tailored energy services that will only accelerate with the convergence of the EV, the internet of things (IoT), distributed power resources and the increasing commitment by utilities to cut carbon at power plants through the Clean Power Plan.

What does this all mean? The sustainable electrification of smarter cities is beginning to swiftly enter residential communities (with gusto). This presents a compelling opportunity for utilities to tap energy data and analytics solutions “in advance” of the next blackout and the anticipated demand EV’s are likely in upcoming years. Energy analytics can help “orchestrate” balance on the grid and smooth out energy demand and consumption while also helping utilities create new products, boost customer engagement and more accurately predict household energy consumption.

Why is this so important? Never mind the national security concerns that blackouts could present, which are massive by the way. The home is truly becoming the sweet spot for the personalization of energy. so more needs to be done to protect the grid from all vulnerabilities, including those from EVs. Daly, suggests rolling blackouts might be avoided if someone has a plan. Here at Blue Phoenix we believe energy analytics should not just part of the plan, they should be part of the solution. 

Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Keith Williamson