It's turning Fords into vigilante backup power sources.
Some North Carolina drivers who own a Ford F-150 Lightning electric truck may get paid a little cash to help stabilize the local power grid during peak times, in an interesting example of how electric vehicles, with their sizable battery packs, could come to prop up local power grids.
Canary Media reported this week that Duke Energy, which serves around 8 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, has asked state regulators to approve a pilot program next year for 100,000 drivers, and has later plans for a program in Florida.
"Duke Energy and Ford share many mutual customers," Lon Huber, Duke’s senior vice president for pricing and customer solutions, told the digital pub. "By working together, we can reduce the price of the product for our customers as well as provide a needed benefit to the power grid."
Drivers who agree to give some of their mighty Lightning's power back to the grid from whence it came will get around $25 off their lease payment every month, with Duke paying Ford directly. It's not much, but it's something.
Drivers who participate in peak events regularly can earn bonuses, with the payouts based on how much energy the customer is able to provide.
Previously, Ford advertised the Lightning as being capable of powering a home for days during emergency situations. Sure, customers have to purchase relatively expensive charging equipment to do it, but the capacity is clearly there.
It would be ill advised to rely on unscheduled, unpredictable humans for power supply consistently, but if 100,000 drivers were able to provide even the equivalent of one household's worth of power during a hurricane, it seems like a worthy program to test.
After all, with power grids struggling to keep up with climate change, heat waves and even the supply chain shortage, there are bound to be times when a little extra juice goes a long way.
More on electric vehicles: Report: Electric Vehicles Cost Half as Much to Maintain