General Motors is developing a feature for its OnStar navigation service that will allow Chevrolet Volt owners to better match recharging patterns for the extended-range plug-in vehicles with the availability of renewable energy.

GM is working with utility company PJM Interconnection on the feature, in which OnStar users will know what percentage of a grid's power supply is coming from renewable sources such as wind. OnStar will be able to regulate the recharging activity for Volts according to peak wind time, which according to PJM is generally between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

GM is running demonstrations of the feature this week at the 2012 DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio. GM will also work with Google at testing the OnStar feature on 17 Chevy Volts at Google's campus in Mountain View, CA. OnStar, which is available on 45 GM models, is used by 6 million subscribers in North America and China.
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Volt Owners May Soon Get Charged with Renewable Energy
OnStar using Chevrolet Volts in Google's "Gfleet" to demonstrate technology

DETROIT – Chevrolet Volt electric car owners could soon charge with renewable energy using a new solution from OnStar.

The technology is enabled as OnStar receives a signal from PJM Interconnection that shows the percentage of available renewable energy on the grid. Data from this forecast is downloaded to the OnStar cloud, or Advanced Telematics Operating Management System (ATOMS). OnStar uses this signal to simultaneously manage the charging of many Volts and to match the renewable energy availability. A mobile app could also be used to alert customers when renewable energy is available.

OnStar and Google are working together to demonstrate the technology on the 17 Chevrolet Volts in Google's "Gfleet" based at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

"This demonstration shows that in the near future customers will have a real signal of demand for renewable energy," said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development. "As customers configure their Volts to favor renewable energy for their charging cycle, this real demand signal will influence utilities to tap into renewable sources."

The demonstrations are taking place this week at the 2012 DistribuTECH Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio. DistribuTECH attendees can see live demos at Booth 1543. OnStar will also be demonstrating the company's Demand Response and Time-of-Use Rate solutions.

PJM data shows that peak time for renewable energy generation from wind is generally between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. With this in mind, it would be possible for customers to use OnStar's Smart Grid solutions to further reduce their carbon footprint and save money by charging during these off-peak times.

"Solutions like this one will ultimately lead to increased renewable energy generation and allow Chevrolet Volt owners to be a key part of that energy transformation," said Pudar.

If the renewable energy service goes into production, customers interested in using it would simply need to sign up. OnStar would then regulate their charging using the renewable energy signal.

The renewable energy technology is the latest addition to OnStar's suite of Smart Grid solutions. OnStar has also developed intelligent energy management technology solutions including:

■Demand response – This solution connects utilities to companies that have intelligent energy management products. These companies can use OnStar to manage energy use for Volt customers who opt in for the service. This future service allows the customer to save money on energy costs while enabling more efficient use of the electric grid.
■Time-of-Use (TOU) rates – OnStar can receive dynamic TOU pricing from utilities and notify Volt owners of the rate plan offers via email. Owners will be able to use OnStar to load the rate plans directly into their vehicle and access them to schedule charging during lower-rate periods.
■Charging data – OnStar also sends and receives EV data that helps utility providers without having to interface with the vehicle's electric vehicle supply equipment. This includes location-based EV data that identifies charging locations and determines potential load scenarios.
About OnStar

OnStar, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors, is the global leading provider of connected safety, security and mobility solutions and advanced information technology. With more than 6 million subscribers in the U.S, Canada and China, OnStar is currently available on more than 45 MY 2012 GM models, as well as available for installation on most other vehicles already on the road with OnStar FMV. More information about OnStar can be found at

About PJM Interconnection

Founded in 1927, PJM Interconnection ensures the reliability of the high-voltage electric power system serving 60 million people in all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. PJM coordinates and directs the operation of the region's transmission grid, which includes 62,000 miles of transmission lines; administers a competitive wholesale electricity market; and plans regional transmission expansion improvements to maintain grid reliability and relieve congestion.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Months Ago
      That's a really good idea.
      • 3 Months Ago
      Sounds like an extremely primitive V2G system. They need to come up with better systems wherein the utility has more fine-tuned control. But I suspect that will have to wait until the market size becomes pretty big. It would be nice if the utility would start offering cash payments to people willing to allow their EVs to be used for frequency regulation and peak demand management.
      • 3 Months Ago
      I always thought the entire point of the [currently needlessly complex] Ecotality/Blink/or equivalent home charging stations was in fact to optimize charging ... for exactly this sort of thing. ... avoiding what might be a perhaps too elaborate path to Onstar and then via SMS/cell to the car. But does it pan out? Ironically .... currently the system a) can only understand times of day/rates b) doesn't talk to the car, so it has NO idea how much juice the car actually needs, or by when. It should also be noted that the built-in charging controls in cars like the Leaf are also extremely primitive (a timer, and optional 80% level, non-changeable remotely) This adds interesting stuff to the mix: "P1901 powerline communication In an updated standard due in 2012, SAE proposes to use power line communication, specifically IEEE P1901, between the vehicle, off-board charging station, and the smart grid, without requiring an additional pin; SAE and the IEEE Standards Association are sharing their draft standards related to the smart grid and vehicle electrification.[16]" Why do this? it allows the vehicle to talk "directly" to the grid, bypassing OnStar (or CarWings, or IWantToMakeMoneyAndForcePeopleToUseMyCloudServiceService) ... where cell is completely unavailable (e.g. deep in a parking garage) That all said ... *mobile* services such as OnStar, should *also* have this data. The more the merrier.
      • 3 Months Ago
      There should be different charging rates based on your expectation to drive the car. If I know that I'm not going anywhere until Thursday, it could only use renewable energy from now until then to charge it.