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GM plans to test using electric vehicles as a power backup for homes

The 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is shown in Detroit on Jan. 5. General Motors is in a pilot program with Pacific Gas & Electric to use electric vehicles as a backup power source for homes.
Paul Sancya
/
AP
The 2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV RST is shown in Detroit on Jan. 5. General Motors is in a pilot program with Pacific Gas & Electric to use electric vehicles as a backup power source for homes.

As climate change drives conversation about energy efficiency, General Motors and Pacific Gas & Electric are planning to test the use of electric vehicles as a backup power source for homes.

The pilot, which comes as car companies are funneling money into battery-powered cars, aims to test the home-powering idea by this summer. The program will take place in the electric company's service area, which includes Northern and Central California, and aims to support the state's goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The crux of the initiative is bidirectional charging, which would allow the vehicle to pull power from the grid and to supply power to something else — in this case, a home.

"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 CEO Patti Poppe.

After lab testing, the partners plan to allow a small group of customers' homes to receive power from an electric vehicle when power stops flowing from the electrical grid.

"Our teams are working to rapidly scale this pilot and bring bidirectional charging technology to our customers," said GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra.

The vehicle-to-home electric vehicle echoes the 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning, an electric pickup that automatically powers a home if the lights go out, when the vehicle is connected to the home in a certain way.

The pickup operates similar to a home generator and offers users "peace of mine," Ford says. The battery can power a home for three days, and even up to 10 if the power is rationed properly. The trucks start at $39,964.

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