Electric US Postal Service Trucks Could Serve as Grid Storage System

by , 04/09/10

vehicle-to-grid, V2G, US Postal Service, USPS, USPS trucks store power, electric postal vehicles, electric school buses, electric garbage trucks, electric fleet vehicles, Jose Serrano, PJM Interconnection

America’s fleet of postal service trucks seem pretty mundane. However, with the right technology, those white, rectangular trucks could help bring more renewable energy to the grid. PJM Interconnection, a regional electricity transmission organization (RTO) that transmits electricity to 13 states and the District of Columbia, came up with a strategy to turn postal service trucks, school buses and garbage trucks into grid storage mechanisms. If all these fleet vehicles were electric, they could store grid energy in their batteries during off-peak hours. Not only would that increase grid reliability, it would help bring more power from wind and solar online.

vehicle-to-grid, V2G, US Postal Service, USPS, USPS trucks store power, electric postal vehicles, electric school buses, electric garbage trucks, electric fleet vehicles, Jose Serrano, PJM Interconnection

As the grid exists now, electricity usage and generation must occur simultaneously. That’s a major obstacle for incorporating more renewable power, since wind and solar produce power sporadically. Vehicle-to-grid technology uses EVs’ batteries to store power and feed it back into the grid when cars aren’t in use. If all of America’s postal trucks, garbage trucks and school buses stored power while parked in parking lots during off-hours, it could bring a ton of renewable energy online and balance load and generation.

Not only would this scheme bring greater amounts of renewable energy online, it could also help out the struggling postal system: Utilities and RTOs pay for the vehicles’ power that’s sold back to the grid. If all of the US Postal Service’s 144,000 vehicles plugged in for 12 overnight hours each day, the service could rake in $237 million to $378 million a year! Plus, according to a recent study, if 3,000 postal vehicles went electric, it would save the government $1,500 per vehicle in gas costs each year.

A major hurdle to overcome in order to make this vision a reality is securing funding to replace these fleets with EVs. But pending legislation could help: In December, US Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) introduced a bill that would require the Department of Energy to work with the US Postal Service to manufacture, test and deliver 20,000 electric fleet vehicles. We’ll have to stay tuned to see what becomes of the pending legislation, but the whole idea is certainly an interesting one.

Via SolveClimate

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  1. Dee Kay September 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    BobB – vehicle to grid (V2G) technology doesn’t generally involve deep cycling. This is less about load shifting than what’s known as regulation services – helping the grid manage second to second fluctuations. I’ve seen the U of Del studies and you’d be surprised how little wear and tear there is on the battery.The ISO such as PJM interconnect pays for the storage capacity, but doesn’t necessarily use it fully, i.e. doesn’t run fully down, charge fully up. Much more subtle power transfers are involved.

  2. Bob B. April 10, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    These people must think that the batteries are infinitely rechargeable at no cost. They aren’t. They have a finite lifetime in number of charge-disharge cycles. And they last much, much longer if they are routinely discharged shallowly in their intended use, instead of continually deep cycled for this unintended purpose.

    This plan would wear out the batteries much faster than normal. The cost of the battery packs is quite high. The alleged “savings” per year of $1645 or more per truck needs to be compared with the depreciation per year of the battery pack in this kind of hard use. The savings might actually be much less than optimistically assumed by the proponents, enough so to make properly designed large storage systems more attractive than this approach.

  3. Asunpower April 10, 2010 at 1:01 am

    Those flat top is great to install Solar Panels


  4. Renewable Ray April 9, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    This is absolutely possible. These vehicles could store and produce energy for the grid. They run all day producing enough energy to supply multiple homes [with the right alternators]. They can maintain a small “cranking amps” battery and also charge multiple deep cycle batteries all day, contributing to the grid at night. This is not far fetched, it would be easy!

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