Duke, Progress to Test Smart-Charging Electric Cars

Duke Energy Carolinas (s DUK) and Progress Energy (s PGN), two major utilities in the Southeast, have partnered to test a fleet of smart-charging plug-in electric Priuses in what they say will be the country’s first interstate electric car-charging scheme involving multiple utilities. Each of the Priuses will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module while Advanced Energy, a non-profit focused on energy and transportation solutions, will design and implement the trial.

V2Green, which was bought by smart grid company GridPoint earlier this year, will also provide server-side software to manage the flow of electricity to and from the cars as the needs of the vehicles and grid dictate. The smart-charging system will maximize renewable energy resources when available and delay charging during peak demand hours.

The participation of both Duke and Progress will make clear any billing and operational challenges involved with running a “roaming” electric car-charging system that will see vehicles travel between adjoining utility service areas. This will be an important test for plug-in electrics as a viable plug-in electric vehicle program in the U.S. will have to include some element of inter-utility communication.

Duke and Progress are the latest additions to V2Green’s growing list of utility partners. The Seattle-based startup is working with XCel Energy in Denver to test six PHEV-converted Ford Escapes. Meanwhile, down in Texas, V2Green partnered with Austin Energy earlier this year to test two plug-in-prepped Priuses. Duke has been looking into plug-in electrics for some time as well; earlier this year it announced it would be collaborating with Coca-Cola to add plugs to some of that company’s fleet of Priuses.