According to the latest December 2021 reports, more than 200,000 drivers have reserved a Ford F-150 Lightning for 2022 delivery. To fulfill the massive demand, Ford has already doubled its production capacity for electric pickup trucks twice. Though some buyers will have to wait until 2023 to receive their vehicles, starting this spring, F-150 Lightnings will begin hitting the road and – more importantly for energy providers – plugging in to charge up at home.

Not far behind, Rivian customers have been told that their cars will start arriving in March, although the majority of the first wave of deliveries are expected in the summer and autumn of 2022. And Chevrolet just unveiled its 2024 Silverado EV in January, which will start rolling off the factory line in 2023. In the first month following Chevrolet’s announcement, more than 110,000 Silverado EVs were reserved.

Not only do these pickups promise ranges of 300-400 miles, Ford and Chevrolet are making bi-directional, vehicle-to-grid power a major part of an “energy independence” marketing message, touting the vehicles’ ability to provide back-up power for the home.

Driver excitement for electric pickups is high and gaining momentum with new market segments and in new parts of the country, signaling the start of a dramatic new era in transportation electrification for energy providers with massive increases in load and an acceleration of the deployment of residential solar+storage. 

Greater Range = Greater Load

It’s been a common energy industry analogy to compare the electric load of a single electric vehicle as equivalent to adding a new home to the grid. With the promised 300-400 mile range for the Lightning, Silverado EV and Rivian, each pickup will be equivalent to three new homes coming online.

Ford is offering several levels of home charging options, including a 32-amp mobile-charging unit that will run on either 120- or 240-volt household AC, a 48-amp wall mount charge station and a bi-directional 80-amp option. The Lightning’s bi-directional charging capabilities are also able to replenish other EVs at Level 2 speeds.

Even at the earliest stages of the EV adoption curve, energy providers realized that an uptick in EV ownership translated into not just increased load, but concentrated load on the grid – both in terms of geo-location and time of use. 

Geographically, EV adoption does not advance at a uniform pace across a service territory. Some regions and communities embrace EVs more quickly than others.  And as the types of electric vehicles continue to diversify, individual locations will reveal different adoption curves by vehicle class. For example, communities with high electric pickup adoption rates will have greater concentrated load than those with high compact electric car adoption.

With time of use, without any intervention, charging behaviors have also been shown to yield concentrated load in the form of two time-related peaks: one in the early evening when drivers return home, and a second at midnight when EVs are often pre-programmed to start charging. 

The increased battery capacity of electric pickup trucks will only exacerbate these grid load concentrations.

As energy efficiency programs have demonstrated for many years, behavior management programs can serve as a powerful load balancing mechanism in conditions like these. The key to maximizing its effectiveness is proactive and personalized customer engagement.

That’s where Bidgely can help. More accurate than motor vehicle registration records and more complete than telematics, Bidgely’s Analytics Workbench provides granular EV analytics for every EV owner in a service territory to enable utilities to engage with drivers as a trusted advisor and help manage EV charging with recommendations and regular summaries of each customer’s charging activity and cost of ownership. This highly targeted, relevant and data-insight-based approach yields greater behavioral management program participation and outcomes.

Bidgely’s detection insights also serve as powerful inputs for both real time grid operations and infrastructure planning. Utilities are able to see the total charging consumption and EV load by region, zip code, substation or feeder; the percentage of level 1 vs. level 2 chargers; EV load forecasts; percentage of on vs. off-peak charging; specific geographies with the highest charging; and more. Analytics Workbench visualizes EV loads over time to identify high growth EV pockets and determine where constraints may exist or develop.

The auto industry is moving quickly to broaden their role to include energy advisory and installation services, and utilities need to act now and leverage their uniquely powerful energy insights to avoid being displaced and to solidify the driver-utility collaboration necessary to ensure grid stability.

EVs as a Catalyst for More Storage + Solar

As one of the first electric vehicles to take advantage of bi-directional charging in North America, Ford is marketing the F-150 Lightning not only as a high performance pickup truck, but also as a home energy storage solution. 

For drivers who choose the bi-directional 80-amp charging option, the installation of a “home integration station” (comprised of a power inverter, dark start battery, and transfer switch to enable the bi-directional flow of power in the home) enables the vehicle to provide 9.6 kW of backup power that Ford says alleviates the need for gas generators, Powerwalls or any other legacy backup power solution. The truck’s battery capacity is sufficient to power an average 30 kWh/day home for approximately three days, or to deliver partial power to critical systems or solar homes for up to 10 days. In the future, Ford says the same backup power feature will also be put to use to allow home power to come from the vehicle during peak hours, and initiate charging when energy is less expensive.

As an additional energy independence play, Ford has partnered with residential solar giant Sunrun as its preferred charging equipment installer as well as to offer customers residential rooftop solar packages. Customers interested in combining charging equipment installation with solar power may be eligible to do so for zero dollars down, and will receive reduced installation pricing.

Following Ford’s lead, Chevy is marketing that the Silverado EV will provide 10.2 kilowatts of home back-up power capacity. Specific solar integrations have not yet been announced.

Successfully integrating renewable energy and EV and other battery storage requires an AI-powered strategic approach. As with EVs, Analytics Workbench provides the data-driven foundation that utilities need to manage increases in DER adoption, particularly as electric vehicles take on the role of home energy storage.

With essential energy data inputs ranging from home-by-home daily solar production patterns to aggregate solar production at the substation level, Bidgely empowers energy providers to better forecast the flow of renewable energy onto the grid at the line level to ensure grid stability is maintained.  Bidgely’s analytics can also inform peak load planning and necessary capital upgrades by accurately predicting the impact of solar down to the feeder or transformer level. 

Data Paves the Way

The introduction of the electric pickup truck segment is the next major tipping point in the transportation electrification transition, and utilities need to be prepared for the impact. Managing the triple-impact of greater loads, bi-directional energy flow and increased solar adoption requires a data-driven approach that enables more sophisticated load management and planning and customer engagement. 

To learn more about Bidgely’s EV Solution, download the solution brief.