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Xcel Energy runs nation’s first commercial vehicle-to-grid test in Boulder

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Xcel Energy runs nation’s first commercial vehicle-to-grid test in Boulder

October 22, 2008

BOULDER – Xcel Energy is performing the nation’s first large test of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies in Boulder, Colo., as part of its internationally recognized SmartGridCity™ project. PHEVs with V2G are able to both charge from and discharge power back to the electricity grid, making them sources of distributed generation.

Phase I of the project involves four cars. An Xcel Energy PHEV has already been converted to be V2G capable as part of the SmartGridCity demonstration home project at the University of Colorado (CU) Chancellor’s Residence. In addition, three Boulder County Toyota Prius PHEVs will have special inverters installed that will allow the utility to pull power from the battery of the car during periods of peak power usage. These converted vehicles will become energy storage devices used as part of the technology tests currently underway in Xcel Energy’s SmartGridCity.

The second phase of the project involves converting another 60 existing hybrid electric vehicles to PHEVs with V2G technology. The cars are part of the City of Boulder, Boulder County, the University of Colorado fleets. A mix of onboard V2G technology and smart grid charging stations will be used in this part of the project. The smart charging stations will be installed in several Boulder-area locations. In subsequent phases, the goal is to add another 500 PHEVs to the grid in Boulder and to test V2G technology on a significantly larger scale.

“In SmartGridCity, we have the unique opportunity to test and demonstrate how plug-in hybrid electric vehicles with vehicle-to-grid capabilities can act as sources of distributed energy storage,” said Dick Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel Energy. “We believe that the environmental benefits of adding these PHEVs to the SmartGridCity project will be significant. Beyond the overall reduction in emissions associated with transportation, PHEVs are excellent energy storage devices that will allow us to add even more intermittent renewable energy generation to the grid.”

Through its Chairman’s Fund, Xcel Energy is providing $150,000 to jump-start the project. That funding includes $75,000 to Boulder County for vehicle conversions, $55,000 to the City of Boulder for conversions and smart charging stations and $20,000 to Fort Collins-based Spirae for the conversions of the PHEV used at the CU Chancellor’s Residence. The company and its partners will seek about $6 million in federal and state funding to develop the second phase of the test.

“Testing this type of technology on Boulder County vehicles is a natural fit,” said Ben Pearlman, chair of the Boulder County Commissioners. “Once these vehicles are converted, we will be able to use the energy generated by the solar panels we installed at the Courthouse designed to power these three vehicles, lowering both our carbon footprint and the overall operating costs for our County fleet.”

“The Smart Grid will not only improve how energy is delivered and consumed in our homes and work places, but it also could become an important catalyst for transforming our transportation systems,” said Boulder Mayor Shaun McGrath. “I commend Xcel for its continued leadership on Smart Grid, and am grateful for this new pilot project in Boulder that could be an important step in reducing our addiction to oil.”  

“We have already seen great results from the PHEV that we are testing right now as a part of our participation in SmartGridCity and we look forward to exploring further possibilities for the University's fleet,” said University of Colorado Chancellor, G.P. “Bud” Peterson.

PHEVs with V2G can offer many benefits such as reduced carbon footprint, overall reduction in emissions associated with transportation, vehicle fuel savings, reduced dependence on foreign oil, increased energy security, increased electricity system reliability and increased renewable energy integration. For example, according to the Electric Power Research Institute, a shift from a hybrid electric vehicle to a PHEV is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions for the average driver by up to 30 percent. This benefit is achieved even if coal power plants are used to charge the vehicles.

Partners for the project include, the City of Boulder, Boulder County, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the Governor’s Energy Office and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Xcel Energy also plans to work with
companies such as Boulder-based Hybrids Plus and V2Green, which was recently acquired by GridPoint, to make this V2G test a reality.

Xcel Energy and its Smart Grid Consortium partners are building the nation’s first SmartGridCity in Boulder, Colo. Smart Grid Consortium partners include Accenture, Current, GridPoint, OSI Soft, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Smart Synch and Ventyx. For more information, visit https://www.xcelenergy.com/smartgridcity.

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