As part of a study on how electric vehicles (EVs) affect the grid, 300 homeowners and early adopters of EVs in the Carolinas will be receiving free charging stations from their local energy providers. The charging stations will be rolled out to power customers who have signed leases for — or own — electric vehicles and will provide much needed information on how energy surges from new auto technology will work with the existing grid. Utilities in the area are concerned that high adoption of EVs could cause their equipment to fail and this study will help the utilities efficiently upgrade their equipment to save an estimated $300 million in eventual costs.

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Progress Energy and Duke Energy are spearheading the study and will be covering the estimated $2,000 cost of each charging station as well as their installation — after two years EV owners can choose to have the stations removed or opt to purchase them for $250. Energy providers have estimated that a lack of information about how EVs affect the grid and poor management of energy infrastructure upgrades could cost them upwards of $400 million — after the study they are hoping the cost of informed upgrades will be around $100 million.

You’ve got to consider the size of the load,” noted Ken Dulaney, vice president of Advanced Energy — a nonprofit based in Raleigh that works on energy issues. “What you’re talking about when you put in a charging station is almost like adding another house to that part of the grid,” he added. There is no existing information on how EVs will affect the grid, therefore this research is imperative to a smooth transition for customers and utilities. “By doing this study, we can better understand how the vehicles will integrate into the grid [and] what amount of charging will occur during our peak demand times,” said Duke Energy spokesperson Paige Layne.

Via News Observer