Global environmental challenges
Electric cars to help solve riddle of storing power
While it won’t be an overnight revolution for electricity, eventually plug-in electric cars and trucks will be a step toward the elusive goal, said Ted Craver, chief executive officer of Edison International.
Edison International is the parent of Southern California Edison (SCE), which is the biggest utilty in the United States in terms of power delivered to customers.
”They are effectively storage units on wheels,” Craver said of electric cars and trucks.
Vehicles batteries charged during off-peak periods could feed power back to the grid during periods of peak demand, said Craver in a telephone interview on Thursday.
California like other states requires that power utilities have enough power plant generation to serve the highest demand day of the year. This means that more than half of the state’s power generation sits unused most of the time.
“Our electricity system is about 49-percent utilized,” said Craver. “If we had a reasonably modest introduction of electric vehicles into the system, we could change that 49 percent to 55 or 56 percent.”
So in addition to having the ability to propel cars without creating carbon dioxide emissions — outside of the power plants that must run to serve them — electric vehicles may one day help keep utilities from building as many power plants.
Craver’s interview came minutes after he hosted President Barack Obama’s visit to SCE’s electic Vehicle Technical Center in Pamona, California to promote green jobs are green technology.
Obama said that by 2015 there will be a million plug-in hybrid vehicles on U.S. roads.
Obama also announed $2.4 billion in grants for work on plug-in hybrid vehicles and batteries to run them, as well as a $7,500 tax credit for owners of plug-in vehicles.
SCE has more than 300 cars and trucks that run on electricity, the largest U.S. fleet of electric vehicles, Craver said.