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Sustainable Business Council & UCLA Host Smart Grid Panel


On October 13th UCLA and the Sustainable Business Council of Los Angeles, led by SBC Board Member Lee Wallach and Executive Director Molly Lavik, held a panel discussion on emerging developments in smart grid technology. Panelists included Tobin J.M. Richardson, Director, Smart Energy, ZigBee Alliance, Mukhles Bhuiyan, P.E., Smart Grid Program Director, LADWP, Dr. Rajit Gadh, Professor, UCLA, Doug Kim, Director of Advanced Technology, Southern California Edison, and David Rosen, Senior Director, Energy Storage Solutions, CODA Automotive. TPR offers the following excerpts of the conversation.

Rajit Gadh (Director, Smart Grid Energy Research Center, UCLA): Our students were just demonstrating this electric vehicle monitoring and control network, where the idea is that you’ve got EVs in a city where you wish to monitor the entire electric vehicle grid. Does the consumer really care? The consumer is really interested in the bill at the end of the day, whatever it is. There are some consumers who are interested in being green. So again, use a mobile app to do that. But when you think of a network like that, the utilities need to manage, monitor, and control the network. For example, in case of an emergency, like during a hot summer afternoon, maybe the utilities would like to turn off all of the electric vehicles and give one or two dollars, or whatever the incentive is, to the owner of the EV in exchange for doing that so that the utilities don’t need to turn on peaker plants. A third part of this is the owner of the garage who is installing the infrastructure.

Who is the customer? I think that that is very critical question. In some instances it is the consumer. But in some instances it is the owner of the garage, like in our system, and in some instances it is the utility. They may be interested in other concerns like, for example, if everybody turns on their EV charger at the same time and all of a sudden you’ve got 100 EVs charging. That would create a huge shock to our local distribution system. The shock could be from UCLA, but it might be felt at DWP.

All of these things have to be looked at not just from a technical standpoint, but also from the perspective of who the customer is. Right now I don’t know what our students are going to do, but when we created the start-up company it was my students who did everything, and I was merely helped them along. Right now we are just trying to solve these hard problems.