As more drivers purchase new electric vehicles and more businesses buy EV charging stations to support them, more utility companies are getting involved. Utilities across the country are offering discounts or rebates to businesses for installing smart charging stations from an approved list of equipment. But why require specific EV supply equipment (EVSE)? As climate change causes more extreme weather events, and as more people plug into the energy grid, utility providers and electric companies are realizing that load management is the next priority for equipment like EV charging stations.

What are demand response and load management?

Demand response (DR) and load management technology help utilities better manage the electrical grid, so all users can have electricity during peak energy usage. In most cases, the term “demand response” refers to scaling down electricity to specific equipment, though sometimes it is also used to describe variable pricing based on demand. As a recent example, during a heat wave in Texas last summer, air conditioners were running high and the reserve of electricity supply was running low. ERCOT asked customers to limit their energy usage and to only run large appliances during off-peak hours. By increasing energy prices due to demand and asking customers to reduce usage, ERCOT successfully prevented the brownouts and blackouts that Texans had feared. With a demand response program, utilities can shift power between systems during peak periods and offer financial incentives to businesses that choose to participate.

Why do charging stations need demand response?

As more electric vehicles are hooked up to the grid, they become another electrical user. And while some auto manufacturers are working on vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology, which allows for two-way energy transfer between charging station and vehicle, this technology is not yet standard for EV design. Demand response programs are needed to ensure that if millions of electric vehicles plug in at the same time during a heat wave or other peak demand period, those new connections do not strain the system. After all, millions of EVs will hit the streets in the next decade, and electric vehicle charging stations will be the biggest new energy consumer since the air conditioner. Today’s charging stations and power grid must be prepared for the needs of tomorrow.

To help utilities balance the needs of all users, the best EV charging stations now offer a process called Automated Demand Response, or ADR. Using ADR signals, the utility company can automatically tell the charging stations to reduce energy flow to electric vehicles. For example, a vehicle might receive 3kWh instead of 7kWh, thus reserving the remaining 4kWh for someone else. This helps everyone receive electricity when they need it most.

How does SemaConnect support demand response?

SemaConnect charging stations have demand response capability through the SemaConnect Network. We are a member of the OpenADR Alliance, using OpenADR 2.0b, the most current version of the smart grid standard. We are also currently piloting two demand response programs. In these programs, select participating station owners have allowed their utility to reduce power to their SemaConnect stations during peak demand. Drivers at these stations can receive notifications the day before and during the energy event, so they know that the station will deliver reduced power and that charging will take longer than usual. This helps all members of the organization plan ahead.

The ability to offer automatic demand response capabilities is one of the most important reasons why EV charging stations must be smart-networked. Utilities need the ability to control energy demand and energy flow. As more drivers switch to energy-efficient electric vehicles, smart networked charging stations with ADR capability will help utilities balance grid demand.

In the future, ADR capability will be the standard for commercial charging. Future-proof your business and request your quote for smart networked, ADR-capable EV charging stations today.