Leading the Pack in Smart Charge Race

Environmental sustainability is no longer just a trend, it has become an integral part of how we do business and live our lives. Consumers are more educated than ever before on the impact their decisions have on the environment and are looking for ways to reduce this. For a growing number of people this means making the switch to electric vehicles (EV).

“With over 300,000 plug in vehicles, EVs now make up 1% of new vehicle sales. That’s still a small percentage, but that number is expected to climb sharply. And even so, we’re already seeing an impact on the grid,” explains CEO of CrossChasm, Matt Stevens. “In EV ‘intensive’ areas such as California, we are already seeing overloading in residential areas, and utilities are having to increase their infrastructure to absorb the burden.”

Matt explains that today’s electricity grid has only so much capacity, and a rise in EV adoption is only going to put greater strain on utilities. “The “last mile” of the electricity grid that feeds homes is designed to handle around 10 homes per circuit. To fully charge, a Nissan Leaf draws the power equivalent of a single home. A Tesla S model draws the power equivalent of three homes. If just one home converts to electric vehicles we start to see overloading issues. Factor in multiple electric vehicles on the block charging at once and we really begin to run into issues,” says Matt.

The impact expands well beyond residential areas. Companies looking to be good corporate citizens and who have adopted environmentally sustainable policies are now providing EV charging stations for their employees. Google for example, has the largest EV charging network on its campus in Palo Alto with 450 charging stations and a goal of designating 5% of their parking spaces to EVs. It’s a move that is great for the environment, and will remove millions of metric tonnes of carbon emissions from the atmosphere, but at the same time, will add more burden to the grid, and result in some costly electricity bills for the business.

“It is great to see companies such as Google making commitments towards a sustainable environment, it is the direction we want to be heading. But doing the right thing for the environment can come at a huge financial cost.” explains Matt. “ When all employees show up to work at 8am and plug in their EVs, it is going to put a huge strain on a business’s electricity bill.”

Matt explains that utilities commonly place limits on a company’s electricity power draw and there is a premium charged for going over the designated power limit. Having multiple vehicles drawing from an energy source during an entire work day is sure to send a company over that designated limit resulting in thousands if not millions of dollars a month in penalty charges.

With demand for EVs on the rise and problems already surfacing, it is clear that an answer must be found. Matt and his team at CrossChasm believe they have the solution with their recent smart charging technology and pilot program.

“On average, consumers plug in their vehicles for 8 to 12 hours,” says Matt. “But an EV only requires around 4 hours out of that timeframe to fully charge. Smart charging allows utilities to level out the draw on the power grid by balancing out charges across multiple EVs over time. CrossChasm plays an important role in enabling smart charging, because our C5 data logger captures information on the status of a vehicles charge, which helps the system decide which vehicle charges can be curtailed and which vehicles should be prioritized for charge. Without us, the utility is flying blind.”

CrossChasm is currently the only company in the world able to give utilities this all-important vehicle side data. But they know they have competitors hot on their heels. The company is aggressively working with a number of Canadian utility partners in Toronto, Oakville, and New Brunswick, as well as partners in California, UK and Germany to pilot its C5 logger and smart charging system in households. The company also recently received $430,000 in funding through Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s SD Tech Fund™ to help them accelerate the pace of rollouts. The Toronto pilot project is set to start collecting data by the end of March 2015.

“We’re the only ones who can provide this technology in the world right now. But we know who our competitors are, and we know their timeline. So we’re in a race to the finish. We’ve given ourselves about a year to get in the lead,” says Matt.