PG&E CEO proposes using electric cars to send power back to grid to prevent blackouts

Lyanne Melendez Image
Wednesday, August 9, 2023
How electric cars could help prevent blackouts
PG&E's CEO Patricia Poppe has come up with an "unconventional" idea, using electric cars to send excess power back to the grid to prevent blackouts.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's been said before, California's power grid will have to expand in order to meet the demand for more energy. PG&E's CEO Patricia Poppe has come up with an "unconventional" idea, using electric cars to send excess power back to the grid to prevent blackouts.

Bi-directional charging already allows a few electric cars to send energy from their battery to a home. Think of it as a backup home generator.

RELATED: PG&E, Elon Musk brainstorm ways to meet growing electricity needs

The Ford F-150 Lightning already has that capability and all General Motors electric vehicles are expected to follow. In a recent interview with Good Morning America, GM CEO Mary Barra talked about GM leading the way in the EV industry.

"I have tremendous confidence in our brands, the strength of our brands and our customers and the loyalty that we have," said Barra.

But PG&E's CEO, Patricia Poppe thinks the technology can go even further by also sending that excess power to the grid, except that, the interconnection is not there yet.

"Right now today, there is no technology and no automotive manufacturer whose cars can actually send power beyond the home and up into the grid," said Mark Toney, of Turn (The Utility Reform Network).

But that doesn't mean it won't eventually happen, says Kurt Johnson of the Climate Center.

RELATED: Electric vehicle drivers will soon have more charging options as Tesla plans to open more stations

"There are 125 plus vehicle-to-grid projects going on globally," revealed Johnson.

San Diego has a pilot program with school buses using bi-directional charging that feeds into the grid at the end of the day.

"It's a gigantic unharnessed, untapped power source that can be used. Most vehicles are sitting parked, unused 95 percent of the time," added Johnson.

Still, PG&E has to come up with a compensation plan for those willing to plug into the grid.

"If it's a good offer, I'll approve it, confirm it and stuff like that," said Kenneth Lucas, an EV owner.

RELATED: EPA proposal means EVs could make up two-thirds of US new car sales by 2032

Lawmakers in Sacramento are helping to move things along. For example, Senate Bill 233 would make bi-directional charging mandatory for all new electric vehicles.

Now the question is how quickly can that electrical connection be up and running in any ordinary home to make vehicle-to-grid a reality.

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