SAN FRANCISCO — Owners of BMW i3 electric vehicles in the San Francisco Bay Area can get as much as $1,540 to delay charging their cars during times of peak power consumption from August 2015 through December 2016.
The offer comes from BMW in partnership with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The two are running an 18-month pilot study, called BMW i ChargeForward, to try and encourage owners to charge their EVs when the grid is at lower points of power demand.
According to BMW, participation is open to 100 i3 owners in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties who are also PG&E residential customers and are willing to primarily charge their vehicles at home using a Level 2 charging station.
Participants must agree to allow smart charging of their vehicles to be managed by BMW with commands sent wirelessly to the i3. When power demand is high, PG&E contacts BMW's server to request a load reduction, then BMW selects specific i3 vehicles for up to a one-hour charging delay.
Before charging is interrupted, a message is sent to the affected owners, who have the opportunity to "opt out" if it's not a good time.
Participants will receive a $1,000 gift card at program launch, as well as a second gift card valued at as much as $540 at the end of the pilot, depending on their level of participation. The less opting out, the higher the reward.
According to BMW, no physical or software modifications to the car are necessary, and selection of vehicles to be delayed at any given time will be based on such factors as the owner's desired departure time, as entered into the BMW i Remote app.
BMW says the purpose of the study is to demonstrate "how controlling the electricity demand of electric vehicles can be used to optimize a more consistent grid load. This enables the utility to more efficiently use its existing resources and reduce dependency on expensive, less-efficient power plants that are used to support peak demand.
The i Charge Forward program also uses a stationary battery storage system comprising solar panels feeding a recycled, "second-life" battery that originated in one of BMW's Mini E electric pilot program vehicles. This is done to further realize grid optimization and ease the load on power plants during peak usage hours. It also demonstrates a future use for old electric car batteries.
BMW i3 owners interested in taking part in the study should visit the i ChargeForward site and complete a 10-minute survey to determine eligibility.
Edmunds says: i Charge Forward seems like a great way for BMW i3 owners in the Bay Area to further the electric car movement and make some easy money in the process.