Raleigh, North Carolina – U.S. electric companies Advanced Energy, Duke Energy and Progress Energy are initiating a “smart” charging trial of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Twelve converted Toyota Prius models will be equipped with charging management technology from Seattle-based V2Green and deployed in North Carolina and Florida.

The trial will assess the potential of plug-in vehicles to positively affect electric grid operations, maximize use of clean energy, and prove that PHEVs are a viable alternative to conventional carbon-emitting cars.

“This is the nation’s first PHEV trial to involve multiple utilities,” said Ewan Pritchard, hybrid program manager at Advanced Energy. “Our collaboration will lay the foundation for the wide-scale adoption of plug-in vehicles to deliver cleaner, more cost-effective transportation and diminish our dependence on foreign oil.”

Each of the vehicles will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module to establish two-way communication with the electric grid. Software will be used to manage the flow of electricity to the cars, successfully meeting the needs of both drivers and the grids. When renewable energy such as wind or solar power is available, charging behaviour can be altered to maximize the use of cleaner energy, while in periods of peak demand, charging can be delayed or slowed to avoid grid congestion, and the need to provide electricity from high-cost sources.

The involvement of Progress Energy and Duke Energy will allow the trial to explore the billing and operational requirements of supporting PHEVs “roaming” between adjoining utility service areas, as many vehicle owners will charge their vehicles at home in one service area, and then commute to work and connect to the grid in a different service area. The trial will provide insight into driver behaviour, informing future consumer programs and inter-utility information exchange.

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