Everyone has a trick up his sleeve to save on the electric bill around the house, so why not seek the same on the road? Today General Motors and GE announced the launch of the first real-world pilot of smart grid solutions for electric vehicles, which will allow motorists to up the energy efficiency on vehicle utilities during charging.

Though the platform has been in embryonic form, the OnStar Advanced Telematics Operations Management System (ATOMS) and GE's Grid IQ Demand Optimization Solution have come to fruition for actual implementation in Chevy Volts. This technology will establish a wireless bridge between the EVs and the grid to optimize charging efficiency by collecting and analyzing real-time data.

The utility can reduce demand for electricity during peak times -- say when you're doing laundry at night and everyone in the house is taking a shower with lights on in every room -- by charging the EV during non-peak hours when everyone is asleep with minimal use of electronics in the house.

This maximized efficiency comes as an economic boon to help users save on their electricity costs. Perhaps if we ever find ourselves in a post-gas world, smart grid efficiency may be a major competitive advantage between one EV and another.

This is certainly a positive step toward smarter use of the grid, but OnStar-powered service would only be available to owners of GM cars. Other carmakers may follow suit in the future.

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General Motors to Launch First Real-World Smart Grid Pilot
OnStar connectivity will help Chevy Volt Customers reduce driving costs
2011-07-19

* Smart grid solutions enable utilities to manage electric vehicle energy demands
* OnStar will be the lone telematics provider able to create wireless bridge between electric vehicles and the grid
*Regional utility employees will drive Volts as every day vehicles in Q3

RALEIGH, N.C. – General Motors and OnStar will launch the first real-world pilot of smart grid solutions for electric vehicles this year, paving the way for utilities to increase energy efficiency and offer lower charging costs to customers.

Starting this quarter, hundreds of employees of regional utilities will drive leased Chevrolet Volts as their everyday vehicles and participate in the pilot.

"In contrast to other OEMs who are only talking about smart grid technology, we're moving beyond research and development projects to a program in the real world," said Nick Pudar, OnStar vice president of planning and business development. "Through this pilot we will see real-time results on how intelligent energy management can maximize EV charging efficiency and minimize the electric bill for EV drivers."

Many utility companies throughout the United States have implemented programs where customers opt in to allow the utility to stop and start their home air conditioning units as needed when electricity demand is high. The customer benefit from this service is a lower electricity bill. OnStar's smart grid solution builds on this concept, but to a much more advanced and sophisticated level.

Through the OnStar Advanced Telematics Operations Management System (ATOMS), a utility will be able to accurately monitor and manage the energy used by the vehicles. The data will give the utility deep insight into where and when EVs are charged and demand response, which allows the utility to reduce peak demand by shifting EV charging to non-peak hours.

"OnStar is the only telematics provider that can create a wireless bridge between electric vehicles and the grid, building on our learning from the Chevrolet Volts on the road today," Pudar said.

Through OnStar's ATOMS infrastructure and partners' solutions, utilities will be able to implement two Smart Grid services:

Data Gathering. With customer permission, OnStar will provide the utility with overall charge level as well as charging history – by time and location – for the Volt pilot fleet, without the vehicles having to connect to a charging station. This will give the utility better insight for forecasting demand, setting rates and determining the best location for charging infrastructure.

Demand response. OnStar will allow the utility to actively manage EV charging for those who opt in to the service. The utility can then reduce peak loads by offering discounts or other incentives to encourage drivers to charge their EVs when overall electricity demand is lowest, typically in the early morning hours.

OnStar, the automotive industry leader in telematics, first demonstrated EV data gathering and demand response in February at the DistribuTECH conference in San Diego. The Chevrolet Volt is now available in select U.S. markets and will be available nationwide by the end of the year.

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