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Utility Thinks EVs Could Supplement the Strained Grid

Duke Energy, a utility company based in North Carolina, hopes to test the viability of using electric vehicles to support the grid during peak demand. A pilot will be launched in North Carolina and Florida next year.

(TNS) — Can electric vehicles help utility companies meet power needs during peak demand?

Duke Energy hopes to launch pilot programs in North Carolina and Florida next year to test the concept.

Because all-electric vehicles contain an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine that, of course, allows them to be able to generate and store electricity.

With the right infrastructure, that energy can be used for a customer's home needs or delivered back to the power grid to help support the demand for electricity.

Duke Energy is seeking approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for the pilot program in its Carolinas service area. The program will involve 100 vehicles and was developed in collaboration with Ford. The automaker is promoting the ability of its electric F-150 Lightning trucks to power homes for three to 10 days during an outage.

Duke, however, said the pilot program is open to other electric vehicles that have the necessary bidirectional charging technology.

As an incentive, Duke Energy will reduce payments for program participants who lease an eligible electric vehicle. In exchange, participants will allow the company to draw energy up to three times per month during the winter and summer, and one time per month during the remainder of the year. This energy would be used for research purposes and to support the grid during peak usage hours.

The company will notify participants ahead of time when it plans to control the discharge of the battery, Lon Huber, Duke's senior vice president for pricing and customer solutions, said in an email to the News & Record.

Monthly lease payments would be reduced by about $25 per month per customer for the duration of the lease, though it could be less for vehicle batteries with a smaller capacity, Huber said.

However, the customer is responsible for the bidirectional charging infrastructure — a cost of $3,895, according to Ford. And installation costs can vary, depending on a number of factors.

Duke Energy assumes that the battery discharge from one F-150 Lightning will yield approximately 3.75 kilowatts of capacity to the grid — equivalent to the energy demands of a hot afternoon from 2.5 average households, Huber said.

The company has not begun enrolling pilot participants and is awaiting action on its request by the North Carolina Utilities Commission.

©2022 the News & Record, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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