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GM, Ford, and Google Partner to Promote 'Virtual' Power Plants

Automakers General Motors (GM) and Ford, internet giant Google, and solar energy producers have announced they will work together to establish standards for scaling up virtual power plants (VPPs).

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The initiative, called the Virtual Power Plant Partnership (VP3), will be led by energy transition nonprofit RMI and will also aim to shape policy for promoting the use of these systems.

VPPs pool thousands of decentralized energy resources, such as electric vehicles or electric heaters controlled by smart thermostats. With permission from customers, they use advanced software to react to electricity shortages by switching thousands of households' batteries from charge to discharge mode or prompting electricity-using devices to reduce consumption.

According to RMI, VPPs could reduce peak demand in the US by 60 gigawatts by 2030, the equivalent of 50 million households' consumption. VP3 aims to show that EVs can become a reliable asset to retail utility and transmission operators and can be an asset to homeowners and fleet customers.

VPPs have already improved grid reliability in countries such as Germany and Australia and some US states. During an extreme heatwave last August, California Independent System Operator avoided blackouts by calling on a