When those big winter storms or blazing hot summer temperatures knock out power for miles around, where can you turn if you don’t have a power generator handy?
Some people might seek a more habitable environment in a public building or maybe a shopping mall to warm up or cool off while they are open. But what happens when they close down for the day?
Other than having a generator to power up your home, there aren’t many options to getting the power back on until a utility company flips the switch.
Electric vehicles have not been an option, unless an EV owner wanted to take a chance on having their car’s warranty revoked by making some electrical adjustments to their vehicle.
Tesla warranties state that vehicle damage or malfunction caused by “using the vehicle as a stationary power source” would not be covered by the vehicle’s warranty and could void the warranty, according to an Electrek report.
But now EV manufacturers are beginning to collaborate with utility companies to equip vehicles with the technology to enable EV owners to use their cars as a backup power source for their homes.
Tesla may not be far behind in offering such technology once other EV makers develop a user-friendly home charging system for their vehicles.
Utility and EV Makers Have a Powerful Plan
Pacific Gas and Electric (PCG) – Get PG&E Corporation Report is collaborating with General Motors (GM) – Get General Motors Company Report and Ford (F) – Get Ford Motor Company Report to begin testing how their EV bidirectional charging technology can be used to provide backup power for PG&E customers’ homes.
The San Francisco-based utility company on Tuesday said that it and GM will begin testing their first vehicle-to-home capable EV and charger by the summer, according to a statement. PG&E on Friday doubled down on its GM collaboration with an announcement that it would partner with Ford on a pilot test of its F-150 Lightning EV bidirectional charging system beginning in the spring.
“This is a really big deal to take this next step of bidirectional charging, which Ford is uniquely positioned to do,” said Ford CEO James D. Farley Jr. “We’re really excited to start with PG&E.”
PG&E CEO Patti Poppe welcomed the partnership.
“Today, we are seeing breakthrough opportunities at the intersection of the energy and transportation industries. As more electric vehicles and new charging technology become available, it is critical that we better understand how EVs can interact with the electric grid and how we can best support our customers. Through collaborations with automakers like Ford, we are innovating together for a cleaner, safer and brighter future for all,” Poppe said in a statement.
GM was just as enthusiastic about teaming with PG&E on its pilot program in its statement.
“GM’s collaboration with PG&E further expands our electrification strategy, demonstrating our EVs as reliable mobile sources of power,” GM CEO Mary Barra said. “Our teams are working to rapidly scale this pilot and bring bidirectional charging technology to our customers.”
“We are really excited about this innovative collaboration with GM. Imagine a future where everyone is driving an electric vehicle — and where that EV serves as a backup power option at home and more broadly as a resource for the grid,” Poppe said in a statement. “Not only is this a huge advancement for electric reliability and climate resiliency, it’s yet another advantage of clean-powered EVs, which are so important in our collective battle against climate change.”
Pilot Testing Begins in Spring and Summer
Ford’s Intelligent Backup Power, which will be available in the F-150 Lightning truck, would allow customers the ability to use bidirectional power technology from their all-electric truck to provide up to 10 days of power to their homes during an outage, depending on home energy usage. The Dearborn, Mich., EV maker plans to begin installing the Intelligent Backup Power beginning in the spring, supported by Sunrun as Ford’s preferred installation partner.
GM will begin its pilot test in the summer on multiple GM EVs, according to a statement. The pilot will include the use of bidirectional hardware along with software-defined communications protocols that will enable power to flow from a charged EV into a customer’s home, automatically coordinating between the EV, home, and PG&E’s electric supply.
Following lab testing, a small subset of PG&E customer homes will test the vehicle-to-home interconnection to develop a user-friendly customer experience that will be expanded to larger customer trials by the end of the year.