Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and Ford Motor Company are collaborating to explore how Ford’s new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck can provide backup power to customers’ homes in the California utility service area.
Earlier this week, PG&E said it would work with General Motors on a similar pilot that would involve testing bi-directional charging capabilities to send electricity from the grid to the EV battery and back in the event of a failure. The utility company had to cut power to hundreds and thousands of homes and businesses last year to prevent power lines from starting wildfires in high-risk weather conditions. It therefore partners with automakers to find ways to avoid overloading the network.
“Today, we see game-changing opportunities at the intersection of the energy and transportation industries,” PG&E CEO Patti Poppe said in a statement. “As more and more electric vehicles and new charging technologies become available, it’s critical that we better understand how electric vehicles can interact with the power grid and how we can better support our customers.”
Ford announced plans to build the Lightning with two-way charging capabilities in May 2021. The pickup’s 9.6 kW Intelligent Backup Power, an on-board generator that debuts in the Lightning, can provide up to to 10 days of power to homes during an outage, based on home usage, PG&E says. Ford previously said it could provide full power for up to three days on a full charge.
Ford’s Smart Backup Power, which automatically starts powering your home if your Lightning is plugged in during an outage and then resumes charging when the outage is over, will see its first installations in the spring of 2022. It will be supported charging by solar, battery and energy service provider Sunrun, which partnered with Ford to install the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and home integration system.
Through an initial rollout with a small number of customer homes, PG&E aims to study Ford’s technology and learn how it connects to the power grid and how it can support customer resilience during grid outages. Beyond that, the two companies plan to explore additional use cases for the two-way charging technology.