Sunday, December 28, 2008

PRIUS DOUBLES AS EMERGENCY GENERATOR

NY Times - The Prius has a new use, and it does not involve driving. The Harvard Press - which serves the Massachusetts town of Harvard as opposed to the university ' reported that the car's battery helped keep the lights on for some locals during the recent ice storms.

The newspaper reports that John Sweeney, a resident who lost power, "ran his refrigerator, freezer, TV, woodstove fan and several lights through his Prius, for three days, on roughly five gallons of gas."

According to the newspaper, "the device allowed the engine to run every half hour, automatically charging the car battery and indirectly supplying the required power."

In fact, this development, which comes at a tough time for Toyota, which makes the Prius, may not be as strange as it sounds. Mr. Sweeney's tinkering is along the lines of the "smart grid" technology that many utility executives and other experts say lies in our future. The idea is that the battery of an electric car - a plug-in, in most smart-grid scenarios - can feed power to the electricity grid when the grid needs it.