Current models of battery electric vehicles (BEV) typically have a battery capacity of 40 to 66 kilowatt hour (kWh). Some models have a capacity up to 100 kWh, making them four to seven times larger than a residential home battery. Using BEVs as a backup power source is currently not market-ready but is expected to be a solution as State regulators work on the protocols for vehicle-to-grid integration. Many industry experts see the potential for BEVs to provide backup power and they may do so in the future.
Hand Crank Lanterns
To prepare for a PG&E power shutoff when the lights go out and you do not have disposable batteries, consider a hand crank lantern which will mechanically charge a battery. Costs range typically from $20 to $80. Many lanterns will include a USB port to charge small electronic devices like cell phones.
Fossil Fuel Generators
Diesel generators have been the traditional solution for backup power for homes and buildings and typically cost between $6,000 to $8,000 for a system similar in size to a battery system paired with solar. A smaller sized generator (typically gasoline powered), similar in power capacity to a portable power station, can cost between $200 to $600.
While widely available in the market, diesel or gasoline generators have major drawbacks in terms of health (air quality issues and potential for carbon monoxide poisoning), safety (sparking fires), and climate impacts (increased greenhouse gas emissions). Further, fossil fuel generators rely on fuel supplies, which may become scarce during planned power shutoffs, emergencies, and other periods of high demand.