General Motors has partnered with the Pacific Gas and Electric Company to launch a new pilot program that will use GM electric vehicles as emergency, on-demand power sources for homes.
Through this collaboration, GM and PG&E will work together to test vehicles with “cutting-edge bidirectional charging technology that can help safely power the essential needs of a properly equipped home,” the automaker said in a statement released Tuesday. Bidirectional charging enables an EV to not only draw power from the municipal grid, but also to feed energy back into it. The pilot program will “include the use of bidirectional hardware coupled 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,” GM also said.
Multiple GM EVs will be evaluated during this pilot program, which is set to begin in the summer. The two companies planning larger customer trials before the end of the year, as well.
“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 in a statement. “Our teams are working to rapidly scale this pilot and bring bidirectional charging technology to our customers.”
PG&E Corporation CEO Patti Poppe said the company hopes that one day consumers will be able to seamlessly use bi-directional charging to support their charging needs and also help maintain their city’s power grid at peak hours.
“We are really excited about this innovative collaboration with GM,” she said. “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.”
Bidirectional charging technology is viewed as a potential solution to supporting the energy grid, especially in more fragile areas like California, even when many EVs are plugged in and charging at the same time. The idea would be that fully charged vehicles would feed energy back into the grid, helping to support the grid without fully depleting the battery.
“EVs play a critical role in achieving California’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and already provide customers with many benefits,” GM explained. “Bidirectional charging capabilities add even further value by improving electric resiliency and reliability.”