WALLINGFORD — The Public Utilities Commission recently approved a bid waiver for Town Council consideration regarding a project that would monitor electric vehicle charging activity to gauge when peak charging occurs.
The bid waiver would allow the town Electric Division to procure turnkey services from FleetCarma, a division of Geotab based in Ontario, Canada, and also procure customer outreach, engagement and marketing services from Energy New England, the town’s wholesale power supply agent.
Walter Szymanski, Electric Division energy efficiency and conservation specialist, presented the program during the commission’s June 16 meeting.
Energy New England teamed up with FleetCarma to provide the SmartCharge New England program, which is a data acquisition, behavioral reward and public outreach program aimed at encouraging customers to charge their electric vehicles during off-peak periods.
The two-year voluntary pilot program, to be covered by the Energy Conservation and Load Management Fund, would cost $12,150 based on 50 participants, to whom there would be no cost.
Currently, town departments must ask the Town Council to waive the public bidding process for purchases that cost more than $7,500.
The Town Council, next scheduled to meet July 14, is considering an ordinance that would raise the bid waiver threshold to $16,000, which means if the Electric Division waits and the ordinance passes, it may not need Town Council permission to fund the program.Tracking energy consumption
According to a project summary, a review of the town’s grand list shows 106 electric vehicles registered to Wallingford residents currently.
The number is projected to rise to around 650 by 2026. That projected quantity of electric vehicles represents an additional 1,967,000 kWhs in annual electric sales by 2026.
The program would help the Electric Division plan for increased energy and demand in the next five years.
Szymanski said during the meeting that the program seems to be “a cost-effective way” to gather information on the anticipated growth of electric vehicles in town, and to gain a better sense of owner charging behavior to see if the Electric Division needs to “take another strategy to change people’s behavior that’s adversely affecting our transmission and capacity peaks.”
Customers who own an electric vehicle would be eligible to enroll through FleetCarma. Participants would receive a C2 hardware device that’s customer-installed and able to track charging activity, including time of day and energy consumption, using cellular technology to transmit the data.
The Electric Division would be able to see the data of each participant.
Energy New England has an education and awareness program for electric vehicle drivers. The goal would be to first gather data and then offer incentives to change driver charging behavior.
The SmartCharge New England program has been rolled out in Massachusetts, Szymanski said, and this opportunity is the most user-friendly of similar programs the Electric Division considered.
Commissioner Patrick Birney asked about Szymanski’s pending retirement and managing the program in the short term.
Rick Hendershot, public utilities director, said that a lot of help will come from Energy New England, which has an electric vehicle program administrator on staff.
Tony Buccheri, Electric Division general manager, added that Szymanski has agreed to stay on part time until his position is filled and work with his successor.
Program marketing is slated to be initiated by the Electric Division through bill stuffers, the quarterly newsletter and other means, Buccheri said.