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Cleantech Venture Panel and Xcel on Electrification of Transportation
Feb 24, 2007 (From the CalCars-News archive)
This posting originally appeared at CalCars-News, our newsletter of breaking CalCars and plug-in hybrid news. View the original posting here.
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On Thursday, Felix Kramer of CalCars, Hal LaFlash of PG&E and Jan-Olaf Willums of TH!NK presented pictures of the future integratio of vehicles and the power grid at a panel at the Cleantech Venture Network's Cleantech Forum XII in San Francisco (see­calcars-news/­682.html). Below is a report (which gives CalCars credit for conversions done by others).

At the end of this posting is the Xcel Energy press release referred to in the news story

The Reuters story when reproduced at is accompanied by a photo of Bush at the White House with PHEV and EV (more on this at the end of the news report.)

Utility eyes power grid to boost electric cars Idea would have owners charge at night, then sell excess power during day­news/­articlenews.aspx?type=scienceNews&storyID=2007-02-23T175745Z_01_N23348422_RTRUKOC_0_US-CALIFORNIA-ELECTRICCARS.xml REUTERS Updated: 12:55 p.m. PT Feb 23, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO - California's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., is considering a plan to charge fleets of battery-powered cars overnight with wind energy and let consumers sell back some of the stored electricity during the day.

In addition to reducing oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from standard cars, the plan could help stoke production of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and give power managers more energy capacity on the grid for hot summer afternoons, speakers said at a "clean technology" investment conference in San Francisco this week.

The utility, a subsidiary of PG&E Corp., "could recharge car batteries through electric outlets during the off-peak overnight hours and recharge the grid from the batteries during critical peak demand periods," said Hal LaFlash, director of energy policy and planning at PG&E.

In California, wind power is the biggest renewable source, with more than 2,500 megawatts. Some 4,600 megawatts of wind are projected to be added to meet the state's Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy also is studying smart-grid technologies and recharging hybrid electric vehicles and feeding excess power back to the grid.

A six-month study in Colorado found that electric cars may reduce the overall cost of owning a car, and with new grid technology, cut harmful vehicle emissions by up to 50 percent.

5-6 years away? More studies will include plug-in electric vehicle field tests, and examine management of battery charging along with the availability of renewable energy, Xcel said.

A power grid-to-car-batteries hookup, however, is probably at least five to six years away, Felix Kramer, founder of CalCars, said at the cleantech conference.

CalCars is a nonprofit group which has built about 20 plug-ins since 2004 by outfitting the Toyota Prius with new lithium-ion batteries.

Improving battery technologies to boost energy density at lower weight and cost is a hurdle, but progress on lithium ion battery packs could help develop a bigger market for plug-in cars, Kramer said.

Drivers also may have to downsize their vehicle choices. Some electric cars are likely to be small and aimed at urban dwellers who do most of their motoring in or near cities, speakers at the conference said.

Jan-Olaf Willums, chairman of Norway's TH!NK Electric Car Co., is betting he will find a market in Europe and the United States for his two-seater "city" car. The company previously had ties to Ford Motor Co.

The company raised $25 million in February and aims to double the funding amount by May, he said. It expects to begin production in Norway in September, with marketing focused first in Europe and then the United States.

Smarter meters would be key PG&E's LaFlash said new "smart grid" technologies such as high-tech meters that measure electricity use via remote control and give customers timing and pricing options could help drivers charge their batteries at home or parking lots and also get a bill credit for putting excess electricity back on the grid.

Utilities and grid managers would limit the amount of energy uploaded from batteries, he said. Metering and billing systems would be equipped to match a car to an account.

More than 20 states have adopted measures ordering electric utilities to add more renewable cleaner energies such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass to their energy supplies.

In addition to cars, connections could be made from homes and office buildings to a smart grid, storing energy at off-peak and delivering more capacity to the grid at peak periods, LaFlash said.

At MSNBC:­id/­17299748/­ same story plus: IMAGE: BUSH VIEWS ELECTRIC VEHICLES
An all-electric pickup truck and a hybridsretrofitted to also use plug-in power are shown Friday to President Bush at the White House. Political and industry momentum for alternative energy vehicles has been growing. (This photo links to a large photo with caption: WASHINGTON - FEBRUARY 23: Dan Elliott (R), President and CEO of Phoenix Motorcars Inc., listens to Dave Vieau (2R), President and CEO of A123 Systems, speak U.S. President George W Bush (3R) about his company's battery to retrofit hybrid cars as plug-ins on the South Lawn of the White House February 23, 2007 in Washington, DC. President Bush was shown an all electric truck from Phoenix Motorcars and a hybrid car retrofitted with a plug-in battery from A123 Systems by the company's CEOs. 12:33 p.m. ET, 2/23/07

Xcel Energy study: With a smart grid, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles could have system benefits­XLWEB/­CDA/­0,3080,1-1-1_15531_34200-32875-0_0_0-0,00.html 02/21/2007
DENVER - Xcel Energy today announced the results of a six-month study related to plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and how an increase in their popularity may affect Colorado. The study found that PHEVs may result in a reduction of the overall expense of owning a vehicle and, with the help of smart-grid technologies, eliminate harmful vehicle emissions by up to 50 percent.

The study looked at how adding PHEVs to the road could affect the electric power grid depending on when and where the cars were charging. It also looked at the overall emission footprint of these vehicles, the decreased vehicle fuel costs and how PHEVs could impact the company's production and capacity costs.

Xcel Energy's Utility Innovations group worked with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on the study. A cutting-edge computer-modeling program was used to measure the impact of a mass penetration of PHEVs and how much energy would be required to charge them.

NREL's program was able to simulate adding vehicles to the roads in large increments, under real driving conditions, simulating an increase in the market penetration of these vehicles. The study revealed that these cars, each equipped with a 9 kilowatt-hour battery, could reduce overall CO2 vehicles emissions by half. They could also save owners more than $450 in fuel costs each year compared to a traditional combustion engine vehicle.

"Hybrid gas/electric vehicles are already on the market and PHEVs are staged for growth, so we wanted to know how that could affect our business," said Mike Carlson, CIO, Xcel Energy. "Depending on when customers choose to recharge, adding PHEVs to the road may help reduce overall emissions of CO2 without significant increases in utility infrastructure. In other words, PHEVs could be one piece of the puzzle to solving our global climate change problem."

How much would be saved in vehicle emissions depends on when drivers charge their cars. Incentive programs may induce customers to charge their PHEVs at certain times and will help Xcel Energy minimize emissions and operating costs as well as incremental utility infrastructure investment. "Successfully managing a charging program will depend on a smart utility grid," said Ray Gogel, chief administrative officer for Xcel Energy. "This study is one step we are taking to demonstrate how to use energy more efficiently through smart-grid technologies. In order to make a dent in issues like climate change and dependence on foreign oil, the grid must change. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have the potential to help us better use renewable and other nontraditional energy sources while creating a grid that is more interconnected, balanced and reliable."

Plans are in place to work towards a more intelligent utility grid. While the specific impact has yet to be studied, technology already exists to allow customers to feed excess power from their own PHEV, back onto the grid. This can potentially lead to better use of renewable energy sources and improved reliability. Future studies will include PHEV field tests and evaluate the ability to manage the charging process in conjunction with the availability of renewable energy sources.

Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL) is a major U.S. electricity and natural gas company with regulated operations in eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy provides a comprehensive portfolio of energy-related products and services to 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers through its regulated operating companies. Company headquarters are located in Minneapolis. More information is available at

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for DOE by Midwest Research Institute and Battelle.

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