US Air Force Unveils World’s Largest Electric Vehicle-to-Grid Fleet

Nov. 14, 2014
The military makes a big move into vehicle-to-grid. Here comes the electric vehicle, and with it a new era for the energy industry.

And so it begins. For years we’ve talked about the profound change the electric vehicle will bring to the power grid. And now, in Los Angeles the military will show how it’s done with the world’s largest vehicle-to-grid project to date.

The Los Angeles Air Force Base in California (LAAFB) has acquired 42 plug-in electric vehicles (PHEVs), the most the military has ever assembled in one place. The cars, trucks, vans and a bus will be able to supply 700 kW, enough to power 140 typical American homes on a hot summer afternoon.

Unveiled today, the project marks the first time the Department of Defense has swapped out a base’s entire non-tactical vehicle fleet with PHEVs.

The military will use the new fleet to show how electric vehicles can serve and strengthen the California grid.

What’s profound is that the electric vehicle acts as a customer to the grid, and the grid acts as a customer to the vehicle. The vehicle buys power from the grid. What power it doesn’t use, it stores, and can sell back to the grid. The vehicles also can help the grid function more smoothly by supplying ancillary services –frequency and the like. The vehicles can therefore earn revenue that helps offset energy costs at the base, as well as enhance grid reliability and power security.

In addition, the vehicles act as a low-cost mobile power source that helps the base keep the power flowing if the central grid fails.

“The Department of Defense and Princeton Power Systems share the view that electric vehicle fleets can have long-term cost, logistics, fuel diversity, and environmental benefits,”said Darren Hammell, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Princeton Power Systems, one of several private vendors contributing to the project.

Princeton Power Systems, also known for its work on microgrids, designed and delivered 13 bi-directional electric vehicle charging stations that can both rapidly charge the passenger vehicles and provide grid services. Called CA-15 and CA-30, they are capable of 15 kW and 30 kW charging rates.

“In conjunction with the fast-charging, bi-directional CA-15 charging stations, the vehicles at the Los Angeles Air Force Base also can provide valuable services to the electric grid, further increasing the economic and environmental sustainability of this unique solution,” Hammell said.

The project serves as a learning experience for California  as it moves forward with vehicle-to-grid installations.

The program also will act as a pilot for the military, which plans to broaden its electric vehicle use to Fort Hood, Joint Base Andrews, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Mountain View Army Reserve Center.

In addition to Princeton Power Systems, private partners that contribused are:

– ACDD

– Akuacom

– Bel Fuse

– Clean Wave Technologies

– Concurrent Technologies Corporation

– Coritech Services

– Eaton Corporation

– Electric Vehicle Add-On Systems

– Electric Vehicles Internationa

– Electricore

– Ford Motor

– Kisensum

– Nissan Motor Corporation

– Phoenix Motorcars

– VIA Motors

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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