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My ride? It’s a power plant

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“If we have 200 vehicles in our fleet, they’ll sign a contract and start writing us checks,” Kempton says of the PJM grid operator.

At that point, his group will try to form a “coalition” of V2G-car owners that can provide PJM with one megawatt of on-demand power.

With Newark as hub, Kempton sees this first V2G coalition becoming a prototype for one day aggregating millions of cars nationwide into similar coalitions, each offering car owners a certain rate per hour to plug in their car.

“We’re still at the beginning of things,” says Ray Dotter, a spokesman for PJM, which serves 51 million people across 13 states. “There’s just this one V2G vehicle out there now – and we’re embracing it and its potential.”

A ‘chicken and egg’ problem
Many hurdles remain. Where will V2G vehicles and charging infrastructure come from – and who will pay for them? To be truly effective, V2G will require heavy-duty 240-volt plugs and connections similar to those on an electric dryer.

Also, while many utilities now embrace the idea of charging up plug-in hybrid cars – it’s a big new market for power after all – there is less enthusiasm over V2G. Safety concerns and the complexity of tracking power usage and assimilating power from potentially millions of vehicles is daunting.

“Utilities still need to understand the business case for V2G,” says Mark Duvall, a manager for the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). “What are the requirements for hundreds of thousands or millions of vehicles all doing their thing with power coursing through the system?”

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