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September 04, 2007

The Universe Nods in the Parking Lot

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Since I put a deposit on a Prius on Friday, it was a weekend of license plate messages from the universe affirming my decision.

And, for the frosting on the cake, Jim Motavalli wrote a piece in the NY Times on Sunday entitled "Power to the People" excerpted here for your reading pleasure:

When Hurricane Frances ripped through Gainesville, Fla., in 2004, Christopher Swinney, an anesthesiologist, was without electricity for a week. A few weeks ago, Dr. Swinney lost power again, but this time he was ready.

He plugged his Toyota Prius into the backup uninterruptible power supply unit in his house and soon the refrigerator was humming and the lights were back on. “It was running everything in the house except the central air-conditioning,” Dr. Swinney said.

Without the Prius, the batteries in the U.P.S. unit would have run out of power in about an hour. The battery pack in the car kept the U.P.S. online and was itself recharged by the gasoline engine, which cycled on and off as needed. The U.P.S. has an inverter, which converts the direct current electricity from the batteries to household alternating current and regulates the voltage. As long as it has fuel, the Prius can produce at least three kilowatts of continuous power, which is adequate to maintain a home’s basic functions......

Google has four Priuses with plug-in capacity at its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. With some advice from P.G.& E., Google equipped one to supply power to the grid......


During a recent six-hour power failure, Mr. Factor [another fellow who has been fiddling with this] estimated that his 2005 Prius used less than one gallon of gasoline......

The V2G potential of Honda’s full hybrid vehicles is unexplored, but the company is doubtful of using them to power homes. “We would not like to see stresses on the battery pack caused by putting it through cycles it wasn’t designed for,” said Chris Naughton, a Honda spokesman. “Instead, they should buy a Honda generator that was made for that purpose.”

I shall keep this warning in mind, but as some of you may remember, I once fancied myself the Queen of Preparedness, and therefore, I am thrilled with this possibility, warranty be damned.

Photo note: Sometimes messages from the universe lack aesthetic appeal -- can you believe that I shot all three plates this weekend?

Addendum: It is unfortunate that I couldn't wait for the Posted by Dakota at September 4, 2007 07:03 AM