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    Hands-on with Origin Energy’s EV Power Up (beta), recharging for just 8c/kWh

    As EV adoption grows and charging at home increases, energy companies are taking the opportunity to get creative with energy plans to attract new customers. One example is Origin Energy which has introduced EV Power Up.

    EV Power Up is currently in trial/beta phase and I was accepted into the program yesterday. EV Power Up is effectively a bolt-on to any existing plan and in my case, adds to our Origin Go Variable plan.

    When I first covered EV PowerUp by Origin back in December, the headline feature that got my attention was the ability to fully charge your Tesla for just $5 per day. Now that I have access and have been through the onboarding, there’s more information I can share.

    Eligibility

    To be eligible, you need to be an existing Origin residential electricity customer and have an account registered at the supply address.

    You must have a compatible EV (read: Tesla) or EV charger at the Supply Address. It may be possible to use a Tesla Wall Connector (gen 3) and a different brand of EV, but you’d need to check with Origin.

    Update: Origin has confirmed that only Tesla Vehicles are supported by EV Power Up.

    You must download the Origin App, connect your vehicle and complete the setup journey (aka onboarding) and allow Origin to schedule charge your EV at the supply address.

    Benefits

    The benefits of the EV Power Up Add-on are shared, with customers receiving a lower rate to charge their EV at home, as well as the energy provider being able to optimise the energy supplied as they balance the energy purchased from the grid.

    My standard price for energy is 21.240 c/kWh during off-peak times, and 36.500 c/kWh during peak times.

    Charging my EV at home is typically done at those energy prices, but with the EV Power Up add-on, the price drops to just 8 c/kWh, less than half the off-peak price.

    The actual mechanics of delivering this means the amount of energy consumed by charging your car(s) is monitored and credits are applied to your account. I’m keen to see how this plays out on future bills but ultimately should deliver a significant saving.

    Onboarding

    Having received the invite email from Origin, I followed the link to begin the onboarding process. This involves, linking your Tesla Account to Origin, via a 3rd party service they’re using called Enode.

    Enode is an energy management platform that has more than 1,000 endpoints for Vehicles, Chargers, Batteries, Inverters, HVAC and more. This is the middle-ware layer that allows the energy provider (in this case Origin) to connect to the Tesla API and control charging.

    After reading through the instructions, it’s pretty straight forward, just grab your Tesla key card, jump in your car with Bluetooth connected (it’s probably already connected), ensure you have your account credentials (and MFA) handy and you can proceed.

    You need to check the confirmation box at the bottom of the screen to confirm you’ve read the terms and conditions (you should go read these).

    The app then does a great job of explaining that Enode is a trusted partner, which is important given this will be a new name to most customers. The detailed description when you’re approving permissions is important to read through and also highlights Enode’s fully SOC 2 Type II compliant, an important certification that validates they’re handling data correctly.

    The next step is to connect your vehicle and on this screen, you are then provided a list of 4 vehicle brands. Lexus, Mercedes, Rivian and Tesla. Clearly, Tesla is the option for me, but was interesting to see Rivian listed, given they don’t sell any vehicles in Australia at this stage. I’ve also only ever seen this being referred to as supporting Tesla vehicles, however this shows the platform could support other brands.

    Update: Origin has confirmed this plan is exclusive to Tesla vehicles and the other 3 automakers have now been removed from the onboarding process.

    Similar to the experience of installing mobile apps on your phone, you are presented with a permission review screen that highlights what the Origin/Enode service will have access to.

    • Read vehicle data
    • Read vehicle location
    • Control vehicle charging

    You can tap on each of these items for more information and again I think Origin does a great job of detailing why each permission is necessary for this to work and what data is requested (i.e. example vehicle data).

    After confirming you’re happy to proceed, you then move to connect your vehicle. In my case, I have two cars on the same Tesla account – a 2019 Model 3 and a 2022 Model Y.

    As you continue, you receive a notification that ‘Enode Link has been set up as a key for your vehicle’. The next screen should provide confirmation the connection is successful.

    The onboarding process completes with a screen titled ‘We’re finishing things up..’ and confirms how the system works.

    • ‘We have set the charge ready time for 6am. You can change this to whatever suits you.’
    • ‘We’ll charge your battery up to charge limit set in your vehicle’s app.’

    The art of the plan

    Origin understands you want to have a charged car, ready to go in the morning. Rather than arbitrarily starting charging at specific on-peak/off-peak windows like 10pm-7am, Origin are able to dynamically move EV charging times.

    The objective may be to have an 80% SOC by 6am, but to achieve that charge, at the lowest rate to the customer, Origin may start charging at 9pm one day and 11pm the next day. In reality, this is a much smarter approach than a fixed time, every day of the year.

    Throughout the year, we have a number of contributing factors to when power generation and delivery is the cheapest. In Summer, the days are longer with daylight savings, so solar generation continues to provide power during peak times (i.e. 5-8pm), while the profile of much shorter sunlight hours in Winter changes this completely.

    Having connected the car to charge today around 10am, I noticed my Model 3 is now charging which indicates Origin have determined that charging right now to achieve the 80% SOC goal by 6am tomorrow is best done now, during the day, when renewables are providing a low-cost energy source. I expect this will pause later in the day as load comes back on the grid after 5PM, then start again overnight.

    The experience for you as a customer is simple, get home, plug in and they’ll take care of it.

    The costs

    Charging an EV at home is the cheapest way to drive. If you have solar and are home during the day, this will be the lowest cost of private vehicle transport, at $0 c/kWh (not including the solar investment). Those with home battery storage have additional options, I currently don’t, so haven’t included this.

    The next best option has been to charge using off-peak energy pricing which allows EV owners to achieve the lowest cost of charging.

    If we use an 80 kWh battery pack as an example, and expect a charge session from 0-80% (80 kWh * 0.8), we get 64 kWh of energy required.

    If the cost of that energy is just $0.08/kWh you would spend just A$5.12 (64 kWh * $0.08/kWh).

    Realistically, you don’t go to a 0% SOC every day (insanely rare), a more realistic calculation would be a 50-80% SOC overnight charge, this would consume 40kWh of energy to recover overnight, costing just $3.20. If you were to do this every day of the week, you’d spend a total of A$22.4 per week.

    Let’s compare that to the cost of a standard mid-sized SUV, one of the most popular vehicle segments in Australia.

    The average size of a petrol tank across the following popular vehicles is 57.8 litres. This includes the Toyota RAV4 (~55L), Honda CR-V (~53L), Mazda CX-5 (~58L), Nissan X-Trail (~60L), Subaru Forester (63L).

    The average price of unleaded petrol (91 RON), in Melbourne today is A$2.04 per litre. If we calculate the Cost = Volume × Price per litre, we arrive at the costs in excess of A$100 per week to refuel these vehicles.

    • Toyota RAV4 (55L): 55L × A$2.04/L = A$112.20
    • Honda CR-V (53L): 53L × A$2.04/L = A$108.12
    • Mazda CX-5 (58L): 58L × A$2.04/L = A$118.32
    • Nissan X-Trail (60L): 60L × A$2.04/L = A$122.40
    • Subaru Forester (63L): 63L × A$2.04/L = A$128.52

    This means the weekly cost to recharge using the EV Power Up plan at 8c/kWh, compared to refuelling an ICE vehicle, is between 1/4 and 1/5th the price using today’s petrol price (this fluctuates).

    Obviously, a weekend road trip would consume more energy and require more energy to recharge, so add another $5 for a full charge and you’re still way ahead.

    The future

    I’ll definitely need some more time with the plan before confirming the economics of this, but in theory, this should dramatically lower our charging costs for our two EVs.

    If this trial/beta of EV Power Up is successful, I hope Origin is able to add support for more vehicle brands and also expand this to commercial vehicle fleets that are also transitioning to EVs.

    For more information, or to sign up, head to Origin Energy.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwrighthttps://techau.com.au/author/jason/
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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