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March 9, 2022

PG&E and General Motors collaborate on EV backup power

Bidirectional charging technology home power trial.

By Graeme Roberts

Pacific Gas and Electric Company and General Motors have announced a “breakthrough collaboration” to pilot the use of the automaker’s electric vehicles as on-demand power sources for homes in the utility’s service area.

PG&E and GM will test vehicles with bidirectional charging technology that can help safely power the essential needs of an appropriately equipped home.

“EVs play a critical role in achieving California’s goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and already provide customers with many benefits. Bidirectional charging capabilities add even further value by improving electric resiliency and reliability,” the companies said in a statement.

“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.

By the end of 2025, GM will have more than 1m units of EV capacity in North America to respond to growing demand. The company’s Ultium Platform, a combined EV architecture and propulsion system, enables EVs at scale for every lifestyle and price point.

“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.

PG&E and GM aim to test the pilot’s first vehicle to home capable EV and charger by summer 2022. The pilot 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 the electric supply. The pilot will include multiple GM EVs.

Following lab testing, PG&E and GM plan to test vehicle to home interconnection allowing a small subset of customers’ homes to safely receive power from the EV when power stops flowing from the electric grid. Through this field demonstration, 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.

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