Courtesy of Advanced Energy & Roanoke Electric Cooperative
By Kristi Brodd
Roanoke Electric Cooperative is working with Fermata Energy to pilot the first electric vehicle (EV) charging system equipment to meet the North American standard for two-way current, as verified by Underwriters Laboratories. Roanoke Electric is seeking to unlock the value of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration with a Nissan Leaf, one of the most widely sold and affordable EVs in the market.
The project is designed to determine the additional financial value of using the batteries on-board an electric vehicle when the car is parked at its home base. Fermata Energy’s V2X system has already demonstrated an ability to reduce the peak demand of buildings where it is installed. With this application and others, the value streams developed through this partnership could be significant for Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s member-owners, making the option to go electric more affordable while helping the utility use its grid more efficiently.Curtis Wynn, CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative and President of the Board of the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (NRECA), underscored the project as one additional way to relieve the energy burden of its member-owners. “We are engaging our member-owners to make a rapid shift to a connected technology-driven future, filled with tremendous economic advantages and opportunities.”
“With a bidirectional charger,” Wynn continued, “electricity stored in an electric vehicle’s battery can further Roanoke Electric Cooperative’s efforts to operate a more efficient electrical system – similar to the way the 2,000 plus smart thermostats and water heater controls are currently doing.”
The utility will quantify the value streams generated by tapping EV battery storage during periods of peak demand and by improving resilience with support for critical loads when backup power systems at the site are activated. If successful with these and other applications, the money saved by enabling this technology would help relax upward pressure on rates.
“We’re excited to be working with Roanoke Electric Cooperative and their partners to demonstrate the many value streams available from bidirectionally enabled vehicles using our technology,” said David Slutzky, founder and CEO of Fermata Energy. “We are proud to be manufacturing our chargers at a UL-listed factory in the U.S.A., creating clean energy jobs and helping accelerate transportation electrification.”
The project at the headquarters of Roanoke Electric will also include four partners that each bring unique capabilities and resources to expand the capacity of the utility without adding cost to member-owners during a period of economic distress. Clean Energy Works provides advisory services for accelerating investment in grid-edge solutions. Previously, Roanoke Electric worked with Clean Energy Works to develop a business plan for Upgrade to $ave, its site-specific investment program for energy efficiency and demand response. Margarita Parra, Transportation Program Director, knows the importance of utility leadership in mobility electrification. “Roanoke Electric Cooperative has a track record of creating economic benefit for their member owners. This pilot project opens the door to accelerate transportation electrification and eventually applications beyond these initial applications.”
Advanced Energy is a nonprofit energy consulting firm that assists utilities with program design and electric transportation initiatives. Bob Goodson, President and Executive Director of Advanced Energy, validated the leading nature of the endeavor. “We are proud to partner with Roanoke Electric Cooperative and the innovative team they have formed. Advanced Energy has worked closely with North Carolina’s electric cooperatives for over 40 years. We look forward to applying our expertise in data analysis and distributed technologies to this state-of-the-art demonstration project.”
NC State University’s Clean Energy Technology Center is participating through its Clean Transportation Program, which is also host of the largest outreach and engagement events in the region on sustainable fleets.
Environmental Defense Fund, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems, including supporting policies that accelerate transportation electrification to create a zero-emission future. EDF links science, economics, law, and innovative private-sector partnerships. Dionne Delli-Gatti, Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs, SE Climate and Energy, said, “It is particularly exciting to be supporting Roanoke Electric as they continue to explore and pilot clean energy programs designed to add value to the rural communities they serve.”
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