America’s electricity grid wasn’t designed with electric vehicles in mind, and with an influx of EVs replacing gasoline cars, power utilities have started to feel the strain. If too many EV owners charge up their car during times of high energy demand, the grid can get overwhelmed, leading to higher energy costs and greater risk of blackouts. Avoiding that situation requires the grid to grow or become more efficient in terms of how it manages the power supply.
That’s where a new initiative from BMW called ChargeForward comes into play. The program kicks off this week with a group of 100 Bay Area i3 drivers who have given BMW the ability to rearrange their charging schedules in response to high demand. Using an app, drivers say when they need their car each day and BMW works with Pacific Gas and Electric Company, the local utility, to adjust charging schedules remotely, when necessary, based on real-time energy usage data. The goal is to smooth out demand peaks so the utility doesn’t need to ramp up extra production and consumers don’t have to pay peak rates.