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

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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:

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– 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 Elisa Wood

Elisa Wood is the chief editor of She has been writing about energy for more than three decades for top industry publications. Her work also has been picked up by CNN, the New York Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal Online and the Washington Post.


  1. Nice to see the right players in this USAF project: Nissan, Princeton Power, and the Phoenix rising! 🙂 Who’s providing the MG management for the system? Spirae perhaps?

  2. How does a vehicle give power to the system? Does it mean that the vehicles are hybrids or have gas power as well . Please enlighten.

    • The batteries. The vehicles batteries can, if the utility needs, provide a bit of power back to the grid to help with voltage and frequency regulation; this is called “ancillary services.”

    • The charging system of the vehicles can work in bidirectional way, which means that the battery of these vehicles can be charged ( import the power from the grid) and discharged (export the power to the grid). By this, vehicles can be considered as “ancillary services’ and may participate in producing clean power instead of using coal, gas … or any costly resources.

  3. This is definitely a step in the right direction, and has been talked about for years. Glad to see it in action. My biggest concern is what this extra charging/discharging will do to battery life/health? Additionally, as a EV user, I would be concerned about coming out to use the car, and having no range, because the utility had to use it. Would love to hear more details around those concerns.


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