California to test electric Fords and GMs as backup power for homes

It's backup power for your home that you can back up to your home.

General Motors and Ford this week announced pilot programs with California's Pacific Gas & Electric Company that will study the use of electric vehicles as backup power sources during blackouts and for energy storage that can help stabilize the grid.

Upcoming electric models from both automakers are being developed with bi-directional power capability that allows them to send power from the vehicle's battery back into a home's electrical system.

Ford F-150 Lighting

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning

In particular, the large battery packs used in electric pickups like the Ford F-150 Lightning and upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV will have energy storage capacities as high as 130 kWH to 200 kWh, which could power an average home for several days when fully charged.

Ford already sells a bi-directional charger called the Ford Charge Station Pro for $1,310, about double the price of a standard home charger, before fees for installation or any electrical system upgrades that are needed to support it.

Ford CEO Jim Farley told the CERAWeek conference in Houston on Thursday that he doesn't expect Tesla to offer similar capability as it sells solar panels and a Powerwall home backup battery system alongside its electric cars.

"We don't think Tesla will do this because they have an energy business to protect."


2024 Silverado EV RST (Chevrolet)

During Tesla's Battery Day event in 2020, CEO Elon Musk discounted the appeal of bi-directionally, also known as vehicle-to-grid, saying the automaker's original Roadster model was equipped with it and no one used it.

"Vehicle-to-grid sounds good, but I think actually has a much lower utility than people think," Musk said.

"And it’s obviously very problematic if you get to morning and your car, instead of being charged, it discharged into the house, and then you’re sort of, 'OK, now I can either drive or use the battery to power my house.'"

Along with Ford and GM, Hyundai and Kia's latest electric vehicles can double as 1900-watt generators with 110 volt outlets that the companies say can power a home refrigerator or air conditioner for up to 300 hours.

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