20th PLMA Award Winner - Pacesetter Program: 

Consumers Energy with Sagewell

PLMA Trophy 

The PowerMIDrive Program 

Consumers demonstrates its EV load management program can scale to 10,000 vehicles and beyond. 

Click here to attend Consumers' webinar presentation

Consumers Energy exceeded its 1,000 EV enrollment target for the PowerMIDrive Program by 33% in 2022. The successful pilot completion demonstrated Consumer's EV load management program can scale to its next target of 10,000 vehicles and far beyond. 

Since 2019, the Consumers Energy EV team has continually improved this program to maximize scalability and load shifting impacts. PowerMIDrive started with networked chargers, then telematics hardware, but a massive boost in enrollment came with the addition of "Bring Your Own Charger" (BYOC), powered by AMI data analytics and program partner Sagewell. BYOC offers more equitable access by enabling any EV and any level 2 charger to enroll into PowerMIDrive. 

BYOC shifts 98% of EV load to off-peak hours without active load management. This every-day peak reduction is crucial in Michigan where the distribution grid is sized for relatively small AC load, and where a 7 kW EV charger can overload a transformer every summer and winter evening. This makes room for faster beneficial electrification and decarbonization by reducing the need to upgrade the distribution system. The PowerMIDrive pilot was so successful that in January 2023, the Michigan Public Services Commission approved it as a permanent offering.

PowerMIDrive's Program Impacts

  • 2,616 EVs participated in PowerMIDrive incentive programs between May 2019 and December 31, 2022, including EVSE rebates and BYOC. Over 1,300 of them enrolled in 2022, representing 121% growth in one year. The program has targeting 10,000 EVs by the end of 2026.
  • BYOC enrollment has grown at more than twice the rate of EVSE rebates.
  • The BYOC enrollment application takes just 10 minutes to complete.
  • EV identification via AMI analytics (Sagewell’s EVFinder) resulted in over 60% of BYOC participants signing up due to direct program marketing. This targeted marketing outreach specifically seeks to enroll higher peak load EVs that were identified in meter data, thus creating greater peak reduction benefits.

 Load Management Impacts:

  • BYOC participants charged their EVs during off-peak periods 98% of the time.

  • EV identification using smart meter data AI analytics allows for targeted marketing of highest peak EVs, those in areas with distribution constraints, etc.

  • Everyday load shifting is more valuable for distribution-system-constrained utilities than “flexible” load management. Protecting the distribution system requires every EV charging session to occur during off-peak hours because a single EV can overload a transformer. In Sagewell’s analysis of Consumers Energy meter data, over 80% of Level 2 charging EV households not enrolled in PowerMIDrive exceeded 10 kW in May of 2022 when there was no discernible heating or cooling load. When electric or heating load is present at these households, nearly all of them exceed 10 kW load when charging.

  • It is common for cold climate utilities to have 30% to 50% of their neighborhood transformers be 10 kVA (~10 kW) or smaller units. In these cases, every-day load shifting is crucial to minimize damage to transformers and  power quality problems.

  • Often, system upgrades cannot be completed for months or years due to the significant world-wide shortage of transformers and other distribution system components. Shifting load to off-peak hours every day is the least costly and most effective way to delay system upgrades.

 PowerMIDrive Addresses Equity and Inclusion Considerations:

EV ownership is concentrated among more affluent households and EV incentives tend to be earned disproportionately by higher income households driving newer EVs. Encouraging the purchase of used EVs or lower cost EVs is one way to improve access to EVs. However, used vehicles often do not have access to telematics or they require a paid subscription (e.g. GM which charges $200 a year for telematics access).

Since over 80% of EVs sold last year came standard with a 240 volt charging cable, buyers of lower cost and used EVs only need access to a 240 volt outlet without the need to purchase a separate EVSE. Hence, the ability to enroll vehicles of any age that can use any Level 2 charger, including the OEM-provided 240 volt cable, allows these households to also gain access to the BYOC program and its benefits, creating a win-win for the customers and the utility.

About the PLMA Awards Program
PLMA's Awards Program, held each year, recognizes industry leaders who, in the previous calendar year, created innovative ideas, methods, programs, and technologies to manage end-use loads, meet peak load demand, and support the successful grid integration of distributed energy resources. The overarching goal of the PLMA Awards Program is to identify and promote industry initiatives that can potentially benefit multiple organizations. To facilitate learning, each award winner is invited to present their work and successes, as well as the important lessons learned, via a 1-hour webinar for all PLMA stakeholders. 

PLMA webinars are presented live online, published on its YouTube Channel, and broadcast over its podcast, "PLMA: Load Management Dialogues" which is available from whereever you get your podcasts. Please check the PLMA Calendar to register for an upcoming webinar. 

Over the past 20 years, PLMA has presented ~105 awards to utilities, product/service providers, end-users, and individuals responsible for demand response efforts targeted to the residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural customer markets.