California Considers Using EVs for Power During Utility Shut-Offs

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), San Francisco, issued a proposal laying the foundation for the state’s effort to better integrate electric vehicles (EVs) as a grid resource.

The proposal, “Decision Concerning Implementation of Senate Bill 676 and Vehicle-to-Grid Integration Strategies,” looks at the possibilities of using EVs as a way to power the state’s electric grid during wildfire-related public safety power shutoffs, and would also (if approved) instruct the state’s utilities to report back on their plans for using vehicle-to-grid integration as a resilience measure.

The proposal comes almost two months after Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order adopting a goal for all new passenger vehicles in the state to be zero-emission by 2035.

Last year, the state had over 600,000 EVs on the road, as well as 20,000 public charging ports. As a result of the governor’s executive order, combined with the overall growing demand for EVs and charging infrastructure both in California and nationwide, those numbers are expected to continue to grow quickly in the coming years.

The proposal noted, “Senate Bill 676 (Ch. 484, Stats. 2019) (SB676) requires the Commission to establish strategies and quantifiable metrics to maximize the use of feasible and cost-effective electric vehicle (EV) integration into the electrical grid by January 1, 2030. Prior to the enactment of SB 676, the Commission helped to create a vehicle-grid integration working group (VGI WG) that sought to identify recommendations for further EV integration into the electrical grid generally.”

The proposal asks questions such as whether the CPUC should adopt a revised definition for “electric vehicle grid integration” to replace the existing definition, which strategies the CPUC should adopt by the end of 2020 to maximize the use of feasible and cost-effective EV grid integration by Jan. 1, 2030 and which quantifiable metrics should be adopted to measure progress.

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