General Motors Partnering With California Utility Provider PG&E in a Pilot That Will Allow its EVs to Power Homes
【Summary】An electric vehicle’s powerful battery is an untapped power source when the vehicle is parked. So to put that usable power to good use, General Motors announced a new partnership with California utility provider Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) that will allow GM customers to use their electric vehicles as backup power sources for their homes.
An electric vehicle's powerful battery is an untapped power source when the vehicle is parked. So to put that usable power to good use, General Motors announced a new partnership with California utility provider Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) that will allow GM customers to use their electric vehicles as backup power sources for their homes.
As part of the pilot, PG&E and GM will test vehicles with bidirectional charging technology that can help safely power the essential needs of a properly equipped home. Bidirectional charging capabilities offer a higher level of electric resiliency and less reliability on the grid, especially during peak times.
The two companies aim to test the first vehicle-to-home capable EV and charger by this summer.
"GM's collaboration with PG&E further expands our electrification strategy, demonstrating our EVs as reliable mobile sources of power. Our teams are working to rapidly scale this pilot and bring bidirectional charging technology to our customers," said GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra.
How it Works
The pilot includes the use of bidirectional hardware that's paired with software-defined communications protocols that will enable power to flow from a charged EV battery into a customer's home. The software will automatically coordinate between the EV, home and PG&E's electric supply from the street.
In the event of a power failure, the vehicle-to-home interconnection hardware will allow a designated home to receive power from the EV. The pilot will test bidirectional power technology with multiple GM EVs.
PG&E and GM aim to develop a user-friendly vehicle-to-home customer experience for this new technology. Both teams are working quickly to scale the pilot with the goal of opening larger customer trials by the end of 2022.
"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," said PG&E Corporation CEO Patti Poppe. "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."
Ford Motor Co is also working on similar technology for the new F-150 Lightning electric pickup.
Last month, Ford announced a partnership with San Francisco-based Sunrun, a provider of residential solar panels and home batteries that allows Ford F-150 Lightning owners to use their truck's substantial battery reserves as a home's emergency power source.
Sunrun is Ford's preferred installer of the F-150 Lightning home charging solutions, including Ford's optional 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and Home Integration System.
Homeowners can use their F-150 Lightning truck to maintain their routines during brief or extended outages to keep vital necessities up and running, such as lights, heating and air conditioning systems and refrigerators.
The F-150 Lightning extended-range battery system can store 131 kWh of energy and deliver up to 9.6 kilowatts of power without using a noisy and polluting gas-powered generator like many homeowners do when the power goes out. Ford says that the F-150 Lightning's battery offers even greater capacity than many wall battery storage units.
To use Ford's Intelligent Backup Power, customers will need to install the Ford Charge Station Pro and Home Integration System, which includes a power inverter plus a dark start battery and transfer switch, enabling two-way power flow between the home and vehicle.
GM is making one of the biggest financial commitments in its 100+ year history to transition to becoming an electric automaker, and projects like this one with PG&E help to support its efforts.
The company announced in June 2021 that its increasing its investments in electrification and autonomous driving technologies to $35 billion through 2025 as it plans for an all-electric future with dozens of new battery-powered models in the works.
GM aims to lure buyers to switch by introducing electric versions of its popular gas-powered models, including the popular Chevy Silverado pickup. The announcement of an electric Silverado in April 2021 sent GM's stock to $61.94, its highest level since the automaker emerged from bankruptcy after the recession of 2008-2009.
Last month, GM announced plans to increase production of its electric trucks and SUVs this year six times more than previously planned. Being able to use the batteries of these vehicles as a power source for homes might help GM entice customers to switch to electric versions of its most popular gas-powered models.
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