These plug-in hybrids are becoming more than just a curiosity. The Big Three are beginning to take notice, evidenced most recently by GM’s promise to deliver a plug-in Saturn SUV.
But we have to remember that these are electrical. What’s going to happen when these things become commonplace and owners plug theirs in all at the same time? Well, that’s a valid concern and power planners are well aware of the danger. They are confident, however, that such a problem can be avoided by sheer predictability.
The theory goes that most people will have their cars out and about during the day and will need to plug in only at night, which happens to coincide with off-peak hours. When the lights are dark at the office, it’s OK to plug in your car in your garage to juice it up.
But when the lights are dark at the office, that doesn’t mean that the electricity plants simply turn off their switches as well. No, the power plants are busy pumping out power 24 hours a day. During off-peak hours, that power is going to waste. So if enough people plug their cars in overnight, then that’s a lot of power potential that would not normally be taken advantage of. Some companies are also pursuing smart chargers, which would power up cars only at off-peak hours, no matter when they’re plugged in.
There’s also the possibility that you, the plug-in owner, can drive your car to work, plug it in there, and transfer power from your car back to the company’s grid.