PowerSouth, Optiwatt join for EV research pilot program

Published 7:30 am Tuesday, August 15, 2023

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Optiwatt, the largest telematics-based managed charging platform in North America, has announced a partnership with PowerSouth Energy Cooperative that will help plan for increased energy demand as more electric vehicles (EVs) hit the road in the Southeast.

Together, Optiwatt and 14 of PowerSouth’s distribution member systems invite EV owners in its service area across southern Alabama and northwest Florida to participate in the Electric Vehicle Research Pilot — a test program that monitors EV charging and its effect on overall demand. Users can receive a one-time $10 incentive for signing up, as well as a $15 incentive at the program’s conclusion. Enrollment will end once the program reaches a maximum of 250 vehicles, and the program is currently halfway subscribed after its first week. Participation will not affect vehicle charging in any way.

As the federal government and vehicle manufacturers target net-zero emissions in passenger vehicles before 2050, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers legislation requiring 67 percent of new passenger vehicles to be electric by 2032, U.S. electric providers expect an increase in stress on the grid. This research pilot will help PowerSouth evaluate potential impacts from EVs on the grid.

The program supports most electric vehicles on the road today, although plug-in hybrids are excluded. Upon enrollment, vehicles will be assigned to a research group to measure the impact of EV charging on grid load optimization. The pilot program began on July 31, 2023 with the City of Elba, as well as CHELCO, Clarke Washington, Coosa Valley, Covington, Dixie, Escambia River, Gulf Coast, Pioneer, South Alabama, Southern Pine, Tallapoosa River, West Florida and Wiregrass Electric Cooperatives participating. The program will end on Jan. 31, 2024, with the objective to continue as a permanent area of service.

“Our service territory has seen growth in EV use, particularly in pockets of coastal Florida and Alabama,” Mike Majors, Member Services Coordinator of PowerSouth said. “For EVs to be sustainable long term, we must position the grid to support increased electrification and new charging habits. This is what the Optiwatt partnership seeks to address.”

To enroll, participants must download the free Optiwatt app on the App Store or Google Play, or use a web browser, and follow the program instructions. The application will automatically enroll eligible participants in the program thereafter. To view frequently asked questions on the partnership and enrollment details, please visit https://optiwatt.com/faq/powersouth.