Why BMW is paying some car owners $1,000

July 31, 2015, 6:29 PM UTC
BMW Launch Their First All- Electric Car
LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 29: A general view of the new BMW i3 after it's launch at Old Billingsgate Market on July 29, 2013 in London, England. The vehicle was launched as one of BMW's new 'i' branded electric and hybrid-powered cars. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Photograph by Dan Kitwood — Getty Images

Last year, Los Angeles carved out a plan to become a national electric vehicle leader by 2017. The city has since hit a roadblock. The environment would benefit radically if everyone had an electric car, but as the electric cars become more popular, utility companies have to figure out ways to support them.

BMW and PG&E, a California utility company, have joined forces in a trial that they’re calling the “BMW iCharge Forward” program, which they hope will solve the issue. They announced the 18-month trial in January and are finally starting it this month.

PG&E will alert BMW during peak hours when it wants to limit energy consumption. The car company will then alert drivers not to charge their cars for the next hour. The drivers can select their preferred driving hours, which BMW will keep in mind when choosing which customers they’ll request to refrain from charging. The drivers can also opt out if they can’t commit to a delay.

100 BMW i3 drivers have agreed to participate. Each participant receives a $1,000 gift card at the beginning of the program, and at the end of the 18 months they’ll get a second one worth up to $540, depending on how many times they’ve complied with the delay.