After natural disasters, electric cars come to the rescue

After natural disasters, electric cars come to the rescue

Some electric cars can power appliances and even homes during power outages and other extreme weather events.

The morning after Hurricane Ian cut power to Westley and Sarah Ferguson’s home in Haines City, Florida, a suburb southwest of Orlando, Westley ran two extension cords in their home from outlets on the couple’s Ford F-150 Lightning. He connected the refrigerator to one and a power strip to the second, which soon powered the lights, fans, and television.

The Fergusons setup was more rudimentary than the Lightning design would allow—Ford’s best home charger would start an entire house automatically if the truck was plugged in during a power outage—but it was good enough for them to cook beef stew on an electric stove, and then, to host Another couple from the neighborhood for an impromptu movie night. cell and Internet Service was also down, so they used a Blu-ray player to watch Casper and a turntable to spin big band jazz recordings. “There was nowhere we needed to go,” says Westley, the 33-year-old web designer. “So we stayed at home.”

The Fergusons, who have been in Florida since 2013 and lived through Hurricane Irma, weren’t thinking about natural disasters when they asked for lightning in May of last year. Westley has always wanted an electric and pleasant car, World Health Organization She works in the healthcare department, and wants a truck to haul things for her side business hosting picnics. Before Ian, they were mainly using the truck’s 12 power outlets — spread between the bed, cabin, and trunk — for overnight storage on the Space Coast.

“You want to use it when you go camping or when you have a tailgate. These are fun party tricks,” says Westley. “You don’t really want it to be a lifeline to cook dinner or power lights. But it was definitely nice to have.”

While stronghold Two-way charging and the ability to power the house “if needed” have made it a routine selling point in Lightning’s TV ads, and evidence suggests that most EV buyers like Ferguson: disaster preparedness are hardly a factor in their thinking. In a survey of more than 1,500 American electric vehicle owners commissioned by Bloomberg Green, none of the 1% of survey respondents filled out their own reasons for buying electricity Sentences He mentioned it. The majority reported cost savings and environmental benefits.

“Nothing in our market research indicates that emergency preparedness is a noteworthy reason to buy in the electric vehicle market,” says Mark Shermer, a spokesman for research shop Cox Automotive, which routinely polls buyers about their buying decisions. “Consumers often prioritize price, monthly payment, range and design. Emergency preparedness might be a nice thing.”

But while it may not drive sales, the backup power potential of electric vehicles is a feature that can delight owners and boost their loyalty. After Westley posted pictures of his storm experience Social mediaFord CEO Jim Farley shared it on his LinkedIn feed, saying the company has seen an increase in vehicle owners using vehicles in this way after the storm.

Two-way shipping, also known as two-way shipping, comes in different varieties. Ford is one of the few U.S. automakers to offer vehicle-to-home (V2H) capability models, where the flow of electricity can be reversed through a home charger, allowing the vehicle to power an entire home. These settings open up the possibility of vehicle-to-grid, or V2G, systems in which utility companies use passive electric vehicles to help manage the load. (V2G trials are already underway in Europe and the US.) But even a few onboard power outlets for connecting devices — known as vehicle-to-load (V2L) charging — can come in handy in a pinch, as when a Texas urologist used his Rivian truck Perform a vasectomy during a power outage.

The night before Ian made landfall, Kristen Canela plugs her Rivian R1T pickup truck into the charger in her gated community of Fort Myers, Florida, to dump its battery. When Ian arrived, the power to Canela’s house went out for five days – the truck became her backup. Rivian has yet to offer V2H charging, but Cannella has used the onboard R1T ports to make coffee and cook sausage on an electric grill for herself and her son. When the house got too humid, she and her little puppy slept in the back seat with the air conditioner on “pet comfort.” “I am not a caravan. I am not an outdoors person,” she says. “But it has become a huge benefit to me and my family during those 48 hours.”

Cannella, 51, had never owned an electric car before the Rivian, which she’s been driving since late last year. She says she bought it, mainly because she works for the company. (Cannella joined Rivian in the fall of 2020 as a lead business and employment consultant. Bloomberg Green learned her story through a Rivian spokesperson.) But the next time a storm comes, she intends to make more use of the truck. “I plan to connect my refrigerator to the mains,” she says. “I was very afraid that it would drain the battery too much. I have since learned that I should have done this instead of throwing away all my food.”

Until recently, most of the interest in electric vehicles and natural disasters was on potential problems. In a research paper published in 2018 in the journal Energy Policy, researchers took the scenario of a storm evacuee leaving Key West, Florida, in a Nissan Leaf and found that there likely wouldn’t be enough public chargers to avoid being stranded. Subsequent research has shown the potential for back-to-back network failures in Florida as several evacuees attempt to recharge simultaneously. Both scenarios include hurricanes, where there is usually luxury in the preparation; Sudden events such as wildfires and tsunamis pose greater risks.

“I would encourage people to do exit studies, so we know how many charging stations we should have and where to place them based on expected traffic jams,” says Shaun Adderley, program director at Pacific Gas and Electric in San Francisco and lead author of the 2018 paper. .

Policy makers have recently begun to take natural disasters into account when planning electric vehicle infrastructure. The Florida Electric Vehicle Roadmap, published in 2020, predicts that the state will need more fast chargers along evacuation routes as the adoption of electric vehicles increases. Last year, the state Department of Environmental Protection gave Blink Charging Co. millions of dollars in grants to place dozens in strategic locations along evacuation routes, most of which will include standard battery storage so they can continue to operate during network failures. (Florida already has a law on the books that requires some gas stations along evacuation routes to have an alternative power source for their pumps.)

While meeting the power requirements of electric vehicles during grid failure will require more planning and infrastructure, the experience of Ferguson and others in Florida after Ian outlines the potential benefits of electrifying the vehicle we fast. As buses and other public vehicles also become electric, two-way charging can be used to power shelters and other emergency services or even to help prop up troubled networks. “It’s not all going to be so bleak and torturous,” Adderley says.

Jeremy Judkins lives in North Port, on the Gulf Coast between Sarasota and Fort Myers. Judkins, a 33-year-old former banker, spends his time at work Videos for tik tokAnd the Youtube And other social media platforms – many of them focused on Tesla Model X Plaid he got in May of this year, solar panels and Tesla Powerwall batteries he installed in 2020.

Ian hit the North Harbor hard, knocking out power, washing bridges and flooding streets. Judkins says the storm was “like a very small hurricane outside your house for six hours.” Electricity remained in his neighborhood for eight days, but the Judkins house did not go out.

Tesla does not yet offer V2H charging or standard power outlets on any of its models, which is a source of frustration for Judkins and other owners. “People really pay like, ‘Elon, why don’t you do that so your cars can power your house?'” he says. But Judkins was still able to use the 100-kilowatt-hour battery in his Model X to suck the excess power from his own solar panels — and turn his home and car into charging hubs for neighbors in need.

“I’m a really bad neighbor,” Judkins says. “I don’t usually talk to them. But at this point, I have all this extra power. I feel bad. So I took the paddleboard across the street and said, ‘Hey, I have the power and you can sit in the air conditioner in my car and charge all your things.'”

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