Phase 3 will expand the programme to all BMW EV drivers across Northern and Central California, who are also PG&E’s residential, electric customers


Phase 3 of the ChargeForward programme will involve nearly 3,000 BMW EV drivers in California. (Credit: BMW Group)

US utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and the BMW Group are set to launch phase three of their ChargeForward pilot to further optimise electric vehicles (EVs) as a flexible grid resource.

ChargeForward is a smart charging programme launched in 2015 for testing the ability of EVs to support the electric grid. The programme is also designed to give benefits to customers via vehicle-grid-integration applications for enabling smart charging and demand response.

Phase three of the PG&E-BMW partnership will expand the ChargeForward programme to all BMW EV drivers across Northern and Central California who are residential, electric customers of PG&E.

It is designed for a group of nearly 3,000 BMW EV drivers. Phase one and two saw the programme offered to 100 and 400 drivers, respectively.

Phase three of the pilot will be used for further studying how giving incentives to drivers for shifting their EV charging times can help address the needs of the electric grid and in using surplus renewable energy available during the day.

PG&E will work with BMW for sending signals to the participating EV drivers to encourage them to charge their cars at times that support the electric grid.

The programme will launch in mid-April and will run till March 2023.

PG&E integrated grid planning and innovation director Quinn Nakayama said: “The more than 320,000 electric vehicles plugging into PG&E’s electric grid offer a unique resource that contributes to building our clean energy future in California.

“As EV adoption continues to grow, the potential for these clean vehicles as a flexible grid resource becomes more significant.

“Our ongoing collaboration with BMW has allowed us to explore and demonstrate future possibilities of scaling the smart charging capabilities of this growing resource to support the electric grid.”

The partners believe that EVs in the future could be capable of discharging the vehicle battery to support the grid. For supporting this, the duo will work together in a lab setting to study the potential by testing the functionalities of vehicle-to-grid.

BMW North America connected eMobility energy services manager Adam Langton said: “Our sustainability vision at the BMW Group aims to bring sustainability principles to all aspects of the customer experience – including the energy our vehicles use.

“ChargeForward demonstrates how our company’s digital technology can help customers use more renewable energy and reduce their energy costs.

“ChargeForward is part of the BMW Group’s commitment to provide our customers with charging solutions that are convenient, reliable and sustainable.”