News

Electric cars and Edison: a look at the modern grid

The world of the Jetsons and jet packs may still be a long way off, but electric cars are here. And with a modern electricity system, they could soon play a role in the powering of our homes.

It's no secret that electric vehicles are gaining momentum in B.C. Thanks to clean car incentives introduced in December 2011, more British Columbians are opting for a plug-in vehicle — either an electric-gas hybrid or a pure electric version — for their next vehicle.

Not only are car companies introducing more plug-in vehicles in B.C., it's getting easier to imagine owning an electric car, thanks to charging stations popping up in communities across the province.

What's next? Thanks to new, smart meters and BC Hydro's shift to a modernized electricity system, we're a step closer to a future where your car can power your home.

From your driveway to your doorway

Today, fueling your conventional vehicle is a one-way street. You put gas in your car, you drive, and you repeat the process. But with electric vehicles and a smart grid, the possibility of two-way communication between your vehicle and your home can become a reality.

Smart grid infrastructure means that electric vehicles would not only be charged in your home — they could actually power it. The ability to draw power from your vehicle could help lower electricity bills or provide backup power in the event of a power outage.

New, smart meters are starting to transform our electricity grid from a one-way system to a two-way system. That system will enable new sources of clean, renewable energy — including power from solar and other self-generation options in the home, and from plug-in vehicles.

"World's largest machine" needs an upgrade

The electricity grid we have today has been around since the days of Thomas Edison. It's been called the largest machine ever built.

The energy choices that we are making today go far beyond what the grid was designed for. For example, the grid was never envisioned to handle emerging generation technologies such as wind or tidal power. And it isn't capable of managing these new technologies, or our increased demand, in an efficient and scalable way.

In fact, most of the time, utilities like BC Hydro need to send more power than what's needed just to ensure each customer has enough. With new monitoring technology, the grid will be more efficient, and utilities will be able to better integrate renewable energy as generation sources that can help supply power.

How you'll benefit from a modernized grid

Thanks to effective, two-way communication in a modernized grid, you'll have more choices than ever before.

What will it look like?

Think hourly consumption data that will help you make better choices about the way you use power and help you learn how to waste less power.

Think self-sustained communities that generate some — or all — of their power.

Think solar panels on your house and a plug-in vehicle that you not only charge via a plug in the garage, but that can provide power back to your home when you need it.