Kevin Bullis at Technology Review has a nice post that dispels some misunderstandings about plug-in hybrid vehicles. I encourage you to follow his links and to learn more about plug-in hybrids, how they work, and what benefits they introduce into the entire electricity ecosystem, in particular, their article on “how plug-in hybrids will save the grid”.
Kevin’s not entirely correct when he says that PHEVs cannot cause blackouts, because depending on how many of them plug in and either draw or provide current relative to the other activity on the network, they could be a destabilizing factor. The interconnection of distributed devices that can either take current or produce current is a complicated physical problem for which the existing distribution system is not built, so there are some tweaks required to make sure that bad things don’t happen. But for the most part, PHEVs are not a destabilizing force, but will instead contribute resilience to the network ecosystem.
If you are intrigued by PHEVs, check out Tesla, which makes electric vehicles that are downright sexy. Think of a network of Teslas providing power to buildings from their batteries in a hot-hot-heat high peak hour during the day, and then recharging in a cheaper hour. The mind boggles at how cool this could be …