Reports & Publications

Texas Triangle Plug-In Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan

Prepared by the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies

The report consists of three volumes: Volume 1 - Summary and Recommendations, Volume 2 - Full Text of the Plan, and Volume 3 - Appendices.
file_extension_pdf (1K)Volume 1- Summary and Recommendations
file_extension_pdf (1K)Volume 2- Full Text of the Plan
file_extension_pdf (1K)Volume 3- Appendices

Scope of the Plan

CCET with funding from the DOE Clean Cities initiative has prepared this Texas Triangle Plug-In Electric Vehicle (PEV) Readiness Plan. The geographic scope of this Plan is primarily the triangle created by Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Antonio linked by Interstates 45, 10, and 35, and including the City of Austin. The topical focus of this Plan is recommending actions at the State and local level to reduce barriers to PEV market penetration – particularly in the small and mid-size cities outside of the large metro areas.

There is also a strong focus on the interplay between the grid and PEVs because of CCET's mission of promoting “smart grid” technologies within the State's self-contained electricity grid – ERCOT. CCET is not a government agency nor is it a lobbying organization. Therefore, the actions that make up this Plan are limited to recommendations that various groups including ERCOT, the Texas Legislature, municipal governments, State agencies, electric utilities, and other groups – may want to consider to promote PEV “readiness.”

Background: What is PEV “Readiness” and Why is it Important?

Previous efforts in the 1990s to introduce electric vehicles – primarily to address air quality standards, but also to address fuel economy standards and concerns over the high costs of imported oil – were not successful for a variety of reasons. One of these was that the public and state and local government institutions were perceived as not prepared for the introduction of this new technology – hence the desire to ensure that this most recent wave of PEVs into the market will not fail again because of the lack of readiness on the part of consumers and public institutions.

Advocates for PEVs cite three major reasons as a rationale for promoting PEVs through public expenditures: (1) air quality, including the belief by many that carbon emissions will have catastrophic effects on global climate, (2) the need to reduce dependence on foreign sources of oil (much of this from countries that are unfriendly to the US), and (3), the belief that with mass production and continued improvements in battery technology the lifetime costs of the PEVs will be less than that of conventional ICE vehicles, thus providing consumer benefits in terms of reduced transportation costs.

Current sales of PEVs are mostly to those who either want a hedge against further gasoline price spikes or shortages, are motivated by environmental concerns, and/or are an early adopter interested in the technology and performance of electric vehicles.

Rationale behind the Texas Triangle PEV Readiness Plan (Plan)

There were two guiding premises behind the CCET grant application. One was that each of the large metropolitan areas in the triangle had made considerable progress in developing PEV promotion and readiness programs, but that the small and mid-size cities lacked a similar level of PEV awareness and readiness.

A second premise was that there are issues related to PEV readiness that could be better handled from a statewide perspective. CCET was asked to identify barriers to PEV market penetration and recommend measures to overcome these barriers, thus achieving “PEV Readiness.”

Organization of the Plan

With CCET as the grant recipient, several individuals and firms were contracted to develop individual elements of the Plan based on identified barriers to PEV readiness. The Plan elements are presented in individual chapters in Volume II and include analyses of:

  • State of Texas PEV, and alternative fuels, legislation over the past six years as well as State agency actions, (Chapter 2 of the Plan),
  • Barriers to PEV readiness in small and mid-size cities in the Texas Triangle (Chapter 3) ,
  • Electric power industry and grid related PEV issues (Chapter 4),
  • Feasibility of connecting the urban areas in the Texas Triangle with PEV charging infrastructure (Chapter 5),
  • How to provide a state-focused noncommercial and reliable source of PEV information, (Chapter 6), and
  • Issues associated with the long term (Beyond Readiness, Chapter 7).

Volume III consists of appendices with more detailed information in the Plan.

Demand Response Pilot Project

The Demand Response (DR) Pilot Program of the Center for the Commercialization of Electric Technologies (CCET) was a collaboration between three Retail Electric Providers (REPs Direct Energy, Reliant Energy, and TXU Energy), three Transmission and Distribution Service Providers (TDSPs American Electric Power, CenterPoint Energy - Houston Electric, and Oncor Electric Delivery), and demand response-enabling technology providers (Comverge and Corporate Systems Engineering) that began in early 2007.

It was undertaken in order to explore the opportunities and challenges associated with implementing residential demand response programs in the restructured ERCOT market. The ERCOT market structure, as well as the use and integration of the latest technologies for advanced metering, intelligent grid operation, and in-home controls, make this pilot program unique.

Residents of the Dallas and Houston service areas living within the broadband over power line (BPL) footprints of Oncor Electric Delivery and CenterPoint Energy were recruited for participation in the pilot by the REPs from among their existing customers. In all, 213 households in the Dallas area and 133 households in the Houston area participated in the Pilot. In addition to bill rebates or similar incentives offered by the REPs, customers were given free programmable, communicating thermostats in exchange for their participation in the program, which involved allowing their air conditioners and, where applicable, pool pumps and electric water heaters to be controlled.

While a number of challenges limited the ability of participant households to provide expected levels of demand reduction during called curtailment events, overall the Pilot accomplished its objectives of demonstrating the technical and operational feasibility of residential demand response in Texas's deregulated market.

Read the full report, here.