CA musing on mandating your EV be able to help power the grid

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

This news is going to go in the Does California EVER Think Anything Through file, because I have seen no clear-cut proof that they do. No matter how off the wall something sounds – especially in the face of CA realities on the ground, established science, fact, constitutional freedoms, or outright physical limitations – if two or more whackos in the legislature think it’s awesomesauce?


Why, by George, these guys are all over it.

This is the latest.

The California legislature has introduced a bill that would mandate bidirectional charging capability for all new EVs sold in the state beginning in 2027.

First spotted by Charged EVs, SB 233 has passed the California Senate Energy Committee and now heads to the Senate Transportation Committee April 25 for further consideration. If enacted, the bill would ensure all new EVs sold in California after 2027 would have the ability to discharge power from their battery packs to assist the power grid, or provide a backup power source for homes.

In a twisted way, this makes sense for a state that already can’t keep the lights on – use all those lovely, honkin’ yuge batteries in EVs sitting in driveways to take the load off the grid (vehicle-to-grid/V2G) or help consumers either keep their own electric bills down or function during an outage by powering their house with the Tesla in the driveway (vehicle-to-home/V2H). As CA legislators think, “If it works for 5 people, we can make everyone do it.”

What doesn’t make sense is, again, CA can’t keep the lights on. Vicious circle. For your car battery to be charged enough to run the house or help take the load off a failing grid, it has to be charged/juiced up to discharge.

I guess they’ve already forgotten they have days like this:

…Today’s Flex Alert is scheduled between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m., when the grid is most stressed from higher demand and less solar energy. During that time, consumers are urged to conserve power by setting thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, if health permits, avoiding use of major applicances and turning off unnecessary lights. They should also avoid charging electric vehicles while the Flex Alert is in effect.

To minimize discomfort and help with grid stability, consumers are also encouraged to pre-cool their homes and use major appliances and charge electric vehicles and electronic devices before 4 p.m., when conservation begins to become most critical.


This was just this past August. Consumers had to get their houses cooled and EVs charged before 4 p.m.. Now, I don’t know about you, but most people I know are at work until after 4 p.m. and don’t even get home until much later, less mind enduring CA traffic jams to do so. When are they supposed to charge that EV again? Are they supposed to use what charge is left to help the grid out, and then, what – walk to work?

Bu the way, this is incoming to CA this weekend – a literal and figurative warm-up practice session for the summer grid fun.

From the vehicle and consumer side of the house, what about battery life when you are now asking it to discharge more often than it was intended to? EV batteries are still running about $20K a pop to replace. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is running several smallish pilot programs in CA, working on the vehicle-to-everything angle and the incentive offers are part of the compensation for your EV being a guinea pig if you qualify for one of them.

…Those incentives are meant to offset the cost of a reduced lifespan for batteries, but how quickly they will degrade due to cyclical aging isn’t entirely clear. There are ways to get more charge cycles out of a battery, but the price will go up.

“Car companies are trying to get to 1,000 cycles,” said Argonne’s Srinivasan. If you can do that, and get 300 miles every charge, then it can go 300,000 miles. That’s more than we typically use a vehicle. So to get to bi-directional charging, car companies may view this as a lifecycle. You may have two cycles a day, once because you’re driving around in the vehicle and the second cycle because you’re on the grid. That might be cost-effective for the consumer, because they’re using another good application to make money from it. And you can make batteries last more than 1,000 cycles if you want. It depends on how much energy density you can afford.”

…There is a sizable body of inconsistent data from researchers around the globe, including some data on ways to minimize damage to batteries, and different battery chemistries that can affect their lifespan. At present, replacement costs average about $20,000, according to multiple estimates, but that will likely change.


There are quite a few “mights” and”coulds” in there. The fact is, they want to be optimistic and say a constant charge/discharge isn’t going to affect your battery life, but they don’t have any idea right now and that little $2500 rebate from PG&E isn’t really going to take the sting out of having to fork out for a new battery.

There are also additional costs (go figure, right?) and weight in the vehicle itself involved. EVs already weigh a ton more than a comparable-sized ICE. What’s the wear and tear on the roads and the vehicle?

Nothing is what we’d call affordable. NTM you can’t just plug an EV into your garage and fire up the fridge where you used to keep the Bud Light. Guess what – that’s costs money, too.

…V2H is picking up a lot of consumer attention as well. A notable example is the Ford F150 Lightning, which comes with bidirectional charging capabilities using a CCS connector, able to power your home in case your grid goes out. However, since the vehicle is providing direct current (DC) power for bidirectional charging, it requires the Ford Charge Station Pro and a Ford Home Integration System to convert the power from DC to alternating current (AC) in order for your home to use it. V2L is also becoming even more popular as vehicles such as the Hyundai IONIQ, Kia EV6, Rivian R1T and more offer such a feature. It’s super simple, which explains why more EVs have it. V2L allows the user to plug in any standard plug into the vehicle and power the device (lights, computers, a fridge, you name it — if it has a plug, your V2H vehicle can power it). However, these vehicles don’t come cheap. IONIQ 5 has a starting MSRP of $41,450, the EV6 $41,400, and the Rivian R1T at $68,575. The F150 Lightning has an MSRP range of $52,000 to $97,000.

What stands out to me the most across bidirectional charging is that there are two overarching variables that prove to complicate consumer adoption. Those variables are 1) the price of the vehicle is still too high, and 2) in the case of V2G and V2H, the vehicle still requires expensive additional tech, namely an inverter to convert the DC power from the vehicle to usable AC power. For example, if you purchase a Standard Range F150 Lightning, you would need to also purchase the necessary charger from Ford, along with the inverter, bringing the total cost of additional equipment to roughly $5,205.


There’s another concern with mass connections to the grid via your personal EV. Had you all seen this pretty recent story?

Is Your EV Charging Station Safe? New Security Vulnerabilities Uncovered

There were a number along the same lines – malware, DOS attacks, hackers taking control – you are driving what is, in essence, a rolling computer in every aspect of its operation.

…“It’s a very complex ecosystem of different players and different sets of technologies. It shows how many potential doors there are for hackers,” says Benjamin Klein, an associate partner at McKinsey & Co. who specializes in cybersecurity.

The nightmare possibility: Hackers spread malicious software to thousands or millions of EVs. The attacks paralyze the cars until their owners pay a fee, in much the same way that ransomware can shut down a computer network until the hackers get money. Even worse, hackers might be able to corrupt an EV’s charging system and overload the battery, potentially igniting it, or hijack a vehicle’s acceleration and braking, leading to an accident.

When you plug that machine into a grid connected to the world? The security issues have to be addressed.

…But experts say bidirectional technology could also cause harm from bad actors if certain security precautions aren’t taken, particularly with regards to the charger itself.

“When you get to bi-directional, most states require IEEE 1547, and that comes with a lot of advanced functionality that’s required including reactive power support,” said Jay Johnson, principal member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories. “Non-unity power factor that can provide reactive power is generally great because you can do voltage stability on the distribution system. But on the flip side, if that is compromised, you can manipulate the device and inject or absorb reactive power.”

In other words, says Johnson, a malicious party could potentially harness reactive power to damage the charger or deplete the vehicle’s battery, to name just a few possibilities. If the party compromised multiple bi-directional chargers attached to vehicles and injected power into the grid, that potentially could cause inter-area oscillations or other potentially damaging scenarios.

…This is all in addition to the existing security concerns that are present with single-direction charging. “The way chargers are constructed right now, they’re not doing a very good job at protection,” said Johnson. “Some electric vehicle intermediary devices will expose passwords, usernames, WiFi credentials or other things through website vulnerabilities, malicious firmware updates, or just extracting media directly and pulling off unencrypted data that way. Many of them have an SD card that can be plugged into another machine to try to figure out what kind of data is there. If you’ve got your WiFi password stored on that device it can connect back and give you updates on your phone. For another thing, if you’ve got credentials for doing SSH or VPN tunnels back into the cloud infrastructure, if it’s compromised an adversary could potentially communicate upstream and manipulate something going on in the cloud. That could then impact the entire fleet of devices connected to that company’s server. Those are the kind of scary things we’ve been seeing and it’s likely to continue for a few more years, at minimum.”


I know the CA legislature has little to no compunction about increased cost or bother while dumping additional, special demands on their citizens and zero regard for manufacturers who wish to sell products in the state which, by extension, causes more financial strain on residents. Should this little measure make it into law, the consequences will be minor at first – 15 or 20 pounds more weight and a couple of hundred dollars more per EV manufactured to CA specs. The buyer can choose to take advantage of bidirectional charging by purchasing the additional equipment, or not.

But it never stops there, does it?

Because they still won’t be able to keep the lights on.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member

Trending on HotAir Videos