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To Make EVs Cost Effective, Make Them Part Of The Grid

The idea of vehicle-to-grid technology (where idle electric cars use power from their battery to help power other things) has yet to take off, but the military is about to try it. If it works, it might be the best way to lower the price of electric cars for everyone.

The idea of "vehicle to grid" (V2G) is to use electric cars as a grid back-up resource, reducing the need for dirty "peaker stations," and providing owners with a little extra cash.

But the concept could also help offset the currently high cost of EVs against conventional vehicles.

The Pentagon recently announced a $20 million program to lease 500 EVs at six of its installations. The EVs, which include passenger cars, trucks, and buses, will cost between $30,000 to $100,000, but supply as much as $7,300 a year in power back to the grid, potentially making EVs a more reasonable investment.

"It could mean we get the vehicles at no cost, which—if we are able to—would change the industry and would certainly help the American public," Katherine Hammack, assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy, and environment, told the Federal Times.

For example, the Air Force plans to replace 43 gas and diesel power vehicles with EVs, and then build charging stations to send power back to the grid, when necessary. A Pentagon study indicates that an electric sedan might earn as much as $150 a month, if a utility could call on the battery for 73% of time it is not in use.

"If it’s true that we can knock off thousands of dollars a year on a leased vehicle, it makes an awfully compelling case to move forward much more broadly," says Camron Gorguinpour, special assistant to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations, environment, and logistics.

Instead of a premium purchase, maybe we’ll come to see EVs as an investment in the grid’s reliability.