New Technologies: Charge Ahead Project

Throughout spring and summer 2021, Madison Gas and Electric (MGE) worked with a number of residential electric customers who drive Tesla vehicles to test a new platform for managing electric vehicle (EV) charging. MGE's Charge Ahead project was developed to evaluate using a software platform to manage charging through vehicles' on-board modems.

How it worked

Customers provided a need-by time for their vehicle and enabled smart charging. Then, the software optimized charging. The platform also monitored the battery state of charge to ensure customers' vehicles were charged when needed. The platform is able to connect to participants' vehicles, obtain charging preferences and optimize charging through the telematic system in the EV.
"The set-it-and-forget-it approach is appealing to customers," said Debbie Branson, MGE Manager of Electrification.

Benefits of shifting EV charging to off-peak times

Participating customers were assigned to one of three groups that allowed MGE to shift 80% of charging to off-peak times, curtail charging during peak times or shift charging automatically to off-peak times. Using electricity during peak times puts strain on the electric grid. These high-volume periods happen when the majority of customers are working, using their air-conditioning, running household appliances, etc. Shifting charging to off-peak periods helps minimize the impact of EV charging on the grid, which can reduce the need for electric upgrades and help lower long-term costs for all customers.

The initial project launched in March and ended in August. Branson intends to expand Charge Ahead to test more scenarios for optimizing EV charging.