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General Motors and its subsidiary OnStar say they are partnering with Pecan Street Inc. in order to gain access to real-world driving and charging patterns in a community of concentrated Chevrolet Volt owners who also live in managed-energy "smart homes."

Chevrolet made 100 Volts available for purchase on a priority basis last September to residents participating in Pecan Street Inc.'s demonstration project in Austin, Texas.

Pecan Street is part of Austin's 700-acre Mueller community, where residents have agreed to be part of a test bed for sustainable living. Other partner companies, such as Sony, Whirlpool, Oncor and Intel, have provided residents with smart grid and clean energy products and services.

GM and OnStar's official partnership allows researchers from Pecan Street and GM to study how these families' Volts interact with the smart grid on a daily basis and how they interact with other sustainable technologies.

Researchers from the University of Texas, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Environmental Defense Fund will study these products and systems to learn how they interact with the grid. Researchers plan to test up to 1,000 residences in and around the Mueller community over a five-year period.

"We're gathering information from families' vehicles throughout this community to find out the direct impact the Volt has on the grid and how to get drivers the lowest-possible charging rates," says Nick Pudar, vice president of strategy and business development for OnStar. "This project will also help us develop future capabilities of the Volt and other plug-in electric vehicles."

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