As much as we like plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), the fact is there just aren't that many of them on the roads, yet. Well the IRC, a group of power grid operators from the United States and Canada, are predicting that 1,000,000 new PEVs could be on North American roads by the end of the decade. The group has released the results of a study they conducted on what the future effect of that many electric vehicles sucking on the nations' electric teets might look like.

The study is entitled "Assessment of Plug-in Electric Vehicle Integration with ISO/RTO Systems" – ISO stands for "Independent Service Operator" and RTO is "Regional Transmission Organization." The study concludes that by the end of the decade not only could there be as many as 1,000,000 PEVs on the road, but they will mostly be concentrated in urban areas on the West Coast and in the North East of the United States.

"Plug-in electric vehicles represent a significant new set of power users that grid operators must prepare to serve. PEVs also might lead to game-changing innovations in energy distribution and smart grid technology that could enhance grid management and electric system reliability," said Stephen G. Whitley, 2010 IRC chairman and president & CEO of the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO)

The Los Angeles metropolitan area is predicted to see the largest growth of PEVs, a total 119,069 by 2019. If all 119,069 PEVs plugged in at the same time they could add an electric load of 658 MW, that's a medium-sized power plant's worth. However, If PEV charging were staggered over an eight-hour period, electric load would increase by only 147 MW. Over a 12-hour period, PEV charging would spike at only 98 MW.

The IRC concludes that increased development of smart grid technologies would go a long way to leveling out the demand spikes. So would new pricing incentives and penalties for peak and off-peak charging.

One of the coolest ideas mentioned has to do with using smart grid tools to remotely connect to charging PEVs and use them as mobile storage devices. The grid operator could then utilize the power stored in the PEV for the grid and then replace it when system conditions improve.

A copy of the report, "Assessment of Plug-in Electric Vehicle Integration with ISO/RTO Systems," is available for download if you scroll down to the bottom of the home page of the IRC website.

[Source: Business Wire]