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 for customers’ homes in the California utility’s service area.
Earlier this week, PG&E said it would work with General Motors on a similar pilot that involves testing bidirectional charging capabilities to send electricity from the grid to the EV’s battery and back in the event of an outage. The utility company had to cut off power for hundreds and thousands of homes and businesses last year to prevent power lines from sparking wildfires during high-risk weather conditions, so it’s teaming up with automakers to find ways to avoid overstressing the grid.
“Today, we are seeing breakthrough opportunities at the intersection of the energy and transportation industries,” said PG&E CEO Patti Poppe in a statement. “As more electric vehicles and new charging technology become available, it is critical that we better understand how EVs can interact with the electric grid and how we can best support our customers.”
Ford announced plans to build the Lightning with bidirectional charging capabilities back in May 2021. The pickup’s 9.6 kW of Intelligent Backup Power, an onboard generator that’s making its debut in the Lightning, can provide up to 10 days of power to homes during an outage, depending on home usage, says PG&E. Ford had previously said it could provide full-home power for up to three days on a full charge.
Ford’s Intelligent Backup Power, which automatically begins powering your home if your Lightning is plugged in at the time of an outage and then switches back to charging when the outage is over, will see its first installations in spring 2022. They’ll be supported by solar, battery and energy services provider Sunrun, which has partnered with Ford to install the 80-amp Ford Charge Station Pro and home integration system.
Through an initial deployment with a small number of customers’ homes, PG&E aims to study Ford’s technology and learn how it connects to the electric grid and how it can support customer resiliency during grid outages. Beyond that, the two companies plan to explore additional use cases for bidirectional charging technology.