An Energy Correspondent Hunts for Alternatives

“The truck is the battery,” John Reigard said, a hint of pride in his voice.

The family purchased the F-150 Lightning just over a year ago, and they have lost power several times since: at Christmastime, after family members had arrived for the holidays; during a late winter storm in March; and on a summer day, when their 19-year-old daughter was home alone.

But each time, within minutes of the lights going out, the F-150 powered all the essentials in their six-bedroom, four-bathroom house, besides the air-conditioner. They loved the electric truck so much that they bought 10 more for their construction business, saving them about $300 a month per vehicle on fuel and maintenance costs that they would have spent on gasoline-powered trucks, they said.

Closer to home, I interviewed Pedro Pizarro, chairman of the board for the Edison Electric Institute, a utility industry trade organization, and president of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison.

Over the last few years, Southern California Edison, one of California’s three investor-owned utilities, experienced or faced the threat of rolling blackouts during the summer months because of extreme heat. Generally, utilities look for large-scale solutions for those kinds of challenges, but Mr. Pizarro welcomed the consumer resource to help avoid the need to cut power during high demand.

“This is a really interesting, exciting, attractive opportunity,” Mr. Pizarro said. “We think that electric vehicles can interact with the grid in a whole number of ways.”

I’ve spent half of my 31 years as a reporter covering utilities and energy. The industries I report on change faster with each year. When I started on this beat, I didn’t predict our cars would become part of the electricity system, but with E.V.s becoming a kind of Swiss Army knife for consumer energy, my combustion engine might go electric sooner than later.

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