Electric vehicles could be our salvation from traditional gas guzzlers, but mass adoption poses new challenges. If millions of homeowners start charging their cars every night, will the power grids be able to keep up? California utility company PG&E is partnering with BMW for a trial — announced in January but starting this month — that solves the problem by compensating i3 drivers for non-peak charging. Here’s how it works: PG&E will contact BMW when they want to curb consumption. The car company will then select drivers based on their “desired departure time” submitted in the BMW i Remote app. So if you have a flat battery and need to make a trip in the next couple of hours, BMW shouldn’t throttle your home and leave you without a ride. Those that are affected will receive a notification and have the option to “opt out” of the one-hour delay, should it prove to be a bad time.
The 100 BMW i3 drivers that have opted in to the “BMW i ChargeForward” program will be rewarded in two ways: a $1,000 gift card up front and a second worth up to $540 when the scheme ends in December 2016. The latter’s value will be dependent on how many times drivers have opted out over the 18 month period. Postponed charging sounds like a pain, but it could be a useful stop-gap measure while utilities beef up their infrastructure.
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