Connecting utility infrastructure and automobiles.
Steven Letendre is a professor of management and environmental studies at Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT. He has worked as a utility economist at the Research Triangle Institute in North Carolina, and is the author of numerous articles on distributed generation and economics and electric utility policy. Willett Kempton teaches and conducts research on environmental policy at the University of Delaware. He is senior policy scientist in the university’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, and is an associate professor in the College of Marine Studies.
Electric-drive vehicles can be thought of as mobile, self-contained, and - in the aggregate - highly reliable power resources. "Electric-drive vehicles" (EDVs) include three types: battery electric vehicles, the increasingly popular hybrids, and fuel-cell vehicles running on gasoline, natural gas, or hydrogen. All these vehicles have within them power electronics which generate clean, 60 Hz AC power, at power levels from 10kW (for the Honda Insight) to 100kW (for GM's EV1). When vehicle power is fed into the electric grid, we refer to it as "Vehicle-to-Grid" power, or V2G.
Electric utility planners and strategists, when they think about electric-drive vehicles at all, have seen battery vehicles as night-charge (valley-filling) load, and perhaps have seen fuel cell vehicles as possible generation resources for some distant future. In contrast, a recent study we conducted for the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, shows all three types of EDVs (battery, hybrid, and fuel cell) have potential roles to play as utility resources, and that ancillary services are the most lucrative use for vehicle power.