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DTE Energy Program Moves Electric Vehicle Charging to Off Hours

Paul Korzeniowski's picture
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  • Aug 20, 2021

Electric Vehicles (EVs) represent a small but growing portion of automobile sales. Utilities struggle to provide these automobiles with needed electricity without disrupting service to other customers. DTE Energy working with Sagewell launched a Bring Your Own Charger (BYOC) program that convinced 90% of drivers to charge their cars during off-peak hours. As a result, it is a SEPA Power Player Award winner.

At the start of 2020, DTE Energy had approximately 3,000 EVs enrolled in various load shifting programs, representing nearly one third of the EVs in their territory. The utility wanted to leverage Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI) data to entice others to recharge during off-peak hours.

So, the utility issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a partner to develop its program. While utilities have tried to sign consumers up for off peak charging programs, their success rate has been low. These programs often require that customers purchase special equipment, which often costs hundreds of dollars, and enrollment can be tedious.

AMI Pinpoints EV Users

In the spring, DTE selected Sagewell Inc., which has provided consulting services to DTE for about ten years. Sagewell, which has been in business for 13 years, had created SageSight, a data analytics platform that uses AMI data to identify heavy usage electricity customers, like those with heat pumps and EVs.

They culled DTE’s AMI data, found EV users, and sent them emails trying to convince them to join the BYOC program. The Sagewell program works with any Level 2 charger, so consumers did not have to purchase a special charger.  

Ease of use was another attraction. The solution relies on modern mobile and cloud technologies. “A customer can be using our system in less than ten minutes,” said Pasi Miettinen, Chief Executive Officer at Sagewell.

Move EV Charging to Off Peak Hours  

In July 2020, DTE launched a BYOC pilot program. Since then, the program enrolled close to 1,000 EVs, a faster growth rate than every other DTE EV program, according to Sagewell’s Miettinen.

The enrollees are high energy users: more than 70% of the vehicles charge at rates of 9 kW or higher. Now, 90% of that load has shifted to off peak hours, resulting in numerous benefits. The consumers receive incentive worth 2,100 miles of free driving each year.

DTE smoothed out energy usage spikes. They also avoid intermittent problems.  When EV users juice up, they cause a ripple effect, negatively impacting energy delivery for other consumers. Identifying such problems is challenging because when the DTE service team arrives at a customer’s home, the EV is no longer charging, and the load problem has disappeared. Such seemingly random problems occur less frequently now. In addition, DTE transformers and secondary lines are no longer overloaded, so they last longer.

Because of the benefits, DTE and Sagewell have extended the program. in April 2021, they started an EV telematics program for General Motors and Ford vehicles.

DTE has been aggressively trying to diminish the impact that EV charging has on its grid. The utility company teamed with Sagewell to create an EV charging program that moved 90% of that load to off peak hours, benefitting both consumers and the utility.



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