GE is working with Con Edison and Columbia University researchers to develop a plug-in charging system that can forecast peak electricity usage times of certain buildings and then – and this is the trick – adjust car-charging levels accordingly. For instance, weather patterns and upcoming holidays will be factored into projected electricity use. Knowing the highest energy usage is important because a building's monthly electricity bill is impacted by peak-level use, not just total use. Since peak-level electricity is more expensive for utilities to procure. GE says its program for leveling off electricity use may save a building where 100 plug-ins are plugged in by as much as $10,000 a month, this is especially true for larger structures in New York City. GE is running the pilot program at five plug-in vehicle charging stations at a FedEx delivery-truck depot in New York City as well as at upstate New York's GE Research Center headquarters.
"Smarter" electric-vehicle charging systems have been topical as plug-in vehicle sales have grown. Earlier this year, General Motors led a group of eight automakers that worked with utilities such as DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric to develop charging systems where vehicles can "communicate" with each other to level off demands on the grid.