March 8, 2022 10:47 AM, EST

PG&E to Test GM’s EVs as Backup Power for Homes

California BlackoutHomes stand during a blackout in Sausalito, Calif., in 2019. (David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News)

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Western U.S. utility giant PG&E Corp. and automaker General Motors Co. are working together to see if electric vehicles can be tapped as a source of backup power for homes in Northern California.

The companies plan to start testing the ability of GM battery-powered autos to supply electricity to a residence at a lab owned by PG&E, according to a joint statement March 8 from the companies. PG&E and GM said they aim to expand the pilot project to a small number of homes by year end.

The goal is to demonstrate how an EV could be used to power a home if it loses electricity from the grid, Aaron August, PG&E’s vice president of business development, told media in a call.

The project is being undertaken as California’s state government pushes for greater adoption of EVs in a region prone to frequent power outages due to utility shutoffs from bad weather. One out of every five electric autos on the road in the U.S. is in PG&E’s service territory, the utility said. PG&E began its practice of intentionally cutting power to some customers during dry and windy conditions in 2018 to prevent live wires from sparking blazes, after the company’s equipment was blamed for sparking some of the worst wildfires in California history.

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