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My ride? It’s a power plant

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Kempton’s dream took a small but critical step closer in January when Newark, Del., became the first US city to license a V2G recharging station.

The scheme’s potential for millions of cars to act as a communal backup for the grid has finally caught the attention of utility operators, Detroit automakers, and even Washington policymakers.

President Obama mentioned V2G on “The Jay Leno Show” last month, though he avoided the wonky acronym. Jon Wellinghoff, the new chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, says the nation’s shift to renewable power will require a growing V2G fleet. Because wind and solar power fluctuate throughout the day, it could destabilize the grid without a battery backup. Also cheap wind energy captured at night could be stored in millions of V2G vehicles for use during the day.

“These vehicles are a vital part of US energy security and our ability ultimately to provide for the economic stability of the country,” says Mr. Wellinghoff, an unabashed V2G backer and the man many credit with coining the term “cash-back cars.”

By this summer, Kempton’s consortium expects to deploy its first five V2G cars. Up to 200 more vehicles – retrofitted by conversion companies – could be on the road by next year, he predicts.

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