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GM and PG&E to Test Using EVs as Back Up Power

GM and a California power company say they will test using electric vehicles to power homes.
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General Motors is partnering with Pacific Gas and Electric on a new program to test using GM’s electric vehicles like the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV as back up power for homes. GM will equip some of its future electric vehicles with bidirectional charging technology that would allow the vehicle to send electricity back into a home.

“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 the Testing Program Will Work

You may recall that Ford received a lot of positive feedback after its pickups were able to provide enough power to keep the lights on in some homes during the ice storms that paralyzed the Texas power grid last February.

GM and PG&E plan to first test the technology in a lab on a small scale. They hope to have the technology for the first vehicle-to-home capable EV and charger by summer 2022. The pilot will include the use of bidirectional hardware coupled with protocols that will enable power to flow from a charged EV into a customer’s home. Special software would coordinate the interaction between the EV, home and PG&E’s electric supply. The pilot program will test multiple GM EVs.

California has really been pushing consumers to adopt EVs but there is a huge issue with PG&E turning off the grid periodically because of widespread wildfires. GM and PG&E are trying to find a way to make EVs part of the solution.

“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. 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,” said PG&E Corporation CEO Patti Poppe.

Real World Testing

Following lab testing, PG&E and GM plan to test vehicle-to-home power connections on a small group of customers’ homes. If and when the two companies can make it work on a small scale, they hope to develop a user-friendly vehicle-to-home customer experience for this new technology on a much larger scale. Both teams have a goal of starting larger customer trials by the end of 2022.

GM’s Electric Vehicle Goals

GM has accelerated its goals of creating more than 1 million units of EV capacity in North America by 2025. GM currently sells the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV and the small Chevrolet Bolt. Several other EVs are coming online soon, including the Cadillac LYRIQ, 2024 HUMMER EV SUV, 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV. Pacific Gas a& Electric serves more than 16 million people in Northern California. Wildfires ravaged Northern California last year, forcing PG&E to turn off the grid out of concerns that downed wires were fueling or adding to the fires.

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Follow Mary Conway at @maryconwaymedia and send her car news tips for future stories.


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