Plug-in Hybrids to Give Back to the Grid

California has lots of everything: people, cars, electricity, trucks, roads, pollution, trucks, and cars. The state is also one of the most vigorous in the U.S. in enforcing clean-air and low emissions regulations. So no surprise here at the announcement out of Mountain View of a plan to make a fleet of cars that can gain some of their get-up-and-go from the state’s power grid, while also giving some of it back.

The join venture between Pacific Gas & Electric (which you would expect) and Google (which you might not expect) has started off with six hybrids that can get up to 75 miles a gallon. One of those six Toyota Priuses and Ford Escapes does its part for the environment by giving electricity back to the grid.

We’ve heard about this sort of thing before, but the combined muscle of PG&E and Google, with its US$10 million investment in hybrid production, makes it more plausible. The two-way-flow vehicles will transfer a few kilowatt-hours at a time back into the grid. That’s small potatoes for one or two or six vehicles, but having thousands of vehicles doing the same thing overnight could mean a dramatic increase in the power capacity of the electricity grid the next morning. It could be a new dawning indeed for hybrids.


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