An Austin, Texas, sustainable community will help to provide real-world driving and charging patterns for electric vehicle owners. The project focuses on Pecan Street in the 700-acre sustainable Mueller development, the largest community of Chevrolet Volt owners who also live in managed-energy “smart” homes. Last September, Chevrolet made 100 Volts available for purchase on a priority basis to residents participating in the Pecan Street project. Researchers from the University of Texas, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and Environmental Defense Fund will study these products and systems to learn how they interact with the grid. Over five years, researchers will test up to 1,000 residences in and around the Mueller community.
“We hope Pecan Street’s research will speed up the innovation cycle around smart grid and consumer electronic technology,” says Pecan Street Inc. executive director Brewster McCracken. “Electric vehicles represent a significant addition to home’s energy profile, and understanding that impact and how consumers use and charge their vehicles is critically important.”
More than a third of the homes in Mueller have rooftop solar collectors, and Pecan Street will evaluate how solar and electric vehicle charging interact. This will allow customers a new, cost-effective way to generate energy, potentially powering their Volts at low or no cost while relieving some of the burden from the electric grid. The project, which also includes manufacturer GM and its OnStar subsidiary, will allow researchers to study how residents’ electric cars interact with the smart grid on a daily basis and how they interact with other sustainable technologies.