On March 23, 2010, the ISO/RTO Council (“IRC”) released a study on plug-in electric vehicles (“PEVs”) entitled “Assessment of Plug-in Electric Vehicle Integration with ISO/RTO Systems.”  The report predicted that one million PEVs might be on the road in the next decade, which could increase electric load by 3,785 MW if all the PEVs are charged simultaneously.  The report also said that the PEVs could impact prices in different regions by 10 percent, depending on the regional concentration.

The IRC represents most of the North American Grid Operators throughout the United States and Canada.  The report estimated about 684,000 of the one million PEVs will be located in regions served by Regional Transmission Organizations (“RTOs”) and Independent System Operators (“ISOs”).  In order to fully analyze the impact of these new PEVs, the report:

• Identified the operational, load, and price impacts to the grid from PEVs;
• Identified potential PEV prices;
• Established adaptations that might be necessary to incorporate PEV services into existing markets and provide a standardized approach to mobile loads;
• Listed key technologies, communications, cybersecurity, and protocols required to enable PEV products and services; and
• Established the types of investments in Information Technology infrastructure needed to integrate PEVs, and estimated their costs.

Although charging all the PEVs simultaneously could have detrimental effects on the grid, staggering the cars by eight hours would drop the additional load to just 819 MW.  If the cars were staggered by twelve hours, the new load would decrease to about 546 MW.  Also, if the grid were to use the car batteries as energy storage devices, PEVs could actually improve grid reliability.

According to the report, California will see the largest increase in new load, with the California ISO expected to see up to 1,480 MW with the roll-out of PEVs.  The report also predicated that initial sales of PEVs will be in the large urban areas of the Northeast and on the West Coast.  In terms of cost, the report estimated that each grid operator can expect to incur a $265,000 cost to upgrade the system, $80,000 for upgrades to software and improved reliability, and a monthly cost ranging from $480 to $2,080 for secure communications.  Additionally, each aggregator is expected to spend $70,000 on a one-time cost to support connectivity between the aggregator and the ISO or RTO.

A copy of the full report by the IRC is available at http://www.isorto.org/atf/cf/%7B5B4E85C6-7EAC-40A0-8DC3-003829518EBD%7D/IRC_Report_Assessment_of_Plug-in_Electric_Vehicle_Integration_with_ISO-RTO_Systems_03232010.pdf.