Residents of New York State and Connecticut have been spectators at an ongoing battle over a 330-MW cable stretching 36 km under Long Island Sound from eastern Long Island, N.Y., to New Haven Harbor in Connecticut. As reported in these pages in May [”Cable Controversy Pits Power Haves Against Have-Nots,” /WEBONLY/resource/may03/ncab.html], the cable, in place for a year, could not be energized because of complaints about its environmental and social impacts. ncab01.jpg

Just about the first thing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE, Washington, D.C.) did during the blackout that began the afternoon of 14 August was issue an emergency order telling Cross-Sound Cable Co. (Westborough, Mass.) to turn the cable on and keep it running through 1 September. On 28 August, the DOE ruled that the cable will remain in operation indefinitely. Its performance during the two weeks following the blackout convinced officials that its benefits warranted continued operation regardless of ”whether particular outages have been identified as being threatened or imminent.” On 4 September, Long Island Power Authority Chairman and CEO Richard Kessel [above] defended that decision before a House committee, showing members cable cross-sections.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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