PG&E Investing Billions to Support Plug-In Cars - CEO
Author: Georgina Coolidge
"Today, our electric grid cannot support massive quantities of plug-in hybrid vehicles very well, and there is much work we have to do to accomplish that," Peter Darbee said at a plug-in vehicles conference sponsored by the Brookings Institute and Google.org.
"But I think much of that work can be done over a five-year time frame in California and a 10-year time frame throughout the remainder of the United States. In short, we need to transform the electric grid in the United States."
PG&E is a combined natural gas and electric utility operating in northern and central California with a market capitalization of US$14.1 billion. According to company data, PG&E provided electric power to roughly 5.1 million distribution customers and natural gas to 4.3 million customers in 2007.
Darbee stressed the importance of incentive pricing and a "smart electric grid" that would allow and encourage customers to charge their vehicles during off-peak hours, increasing the stability of the system. PG&E has the technology ready to roll out 10 million "smart meters" to customers that will enable this process, Darbee said.
Looking to the future, Darbee said there is still much progress to be made. Vehicle to grid technology, which would allow cars to communicate with the utility in order to pick the most cost-effective time to charge, is still 10 to 20 years away, he said.
This technology would also allow the power supply to be reversed, giving a vehicle the capability to provide power to a home. (Reporting by Georgina Coolidge; editing by Carol Bishopric)