September 1, 2022

California: Buy EVs but Don’t Charge Them

Electric vehicles will save the planet, we’re told, but powering them is a big problem.

A week ago, the California Air Resources Board voted to mandate that all new car sales in the state be electric (or other zero-emission) vehicles by 2035. Yesterday, the California Independent System Operator told EV owners to avoid charging their cars during certain times of day because the state’s pathetic excuse for an electrical grid can’t handle the load.

Just wait until mandates drastically drive up the number of EVs.

The power-saving announcement is hardly surprising given the Golden State’s recent history of brownouts and blackouts — sometimes scheduled — thanks to its over-reliance on under-reliable sources of energy. That truth is implied in a “Flex Alert” statement from the American Public Power Association (APPA), which asks residents to reduce consumption particularly from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., when “demand for electricity remains high and there is less solar energy available.”

Fossil fuels don’t care what time it is. Yet California’s grid is overly dependent on energy sources that aren’t consistent, and inevitable energy gaps are tough to fill simply by hitting a lever at the local coal plant. That’s especially true in California, which barely uses coal power (at least not produced inside the state) and intends to be coal-free in the next few years.

Voluntary reductions among California residents, officials said, will help prevent “more drastic measures, including rotating power outages” during the severe heat wave hitting the West over the next few days. Air conditioning will be in high demand, especially later in the day, putting more strain on the grid. And no matter the weather, the 4-9 window of time each evening is precisely when EV owners plug up to recharge after a day at the office.

“Today, most people charge their electric cars when they come home in the evening — when electricity demand is typically at its peak,” according to researchers at Cornell University’s College of Engineering. “If left unmanaged, the power demanded from many electric vehicles charging simultaneously in the evening will amplify existing peak loads, potentially outstripping the grid’s current capacity to meet demand.”

Never mind future mandates; California’s grid sorely needs an upgrade just to deal with today’s load. And yet the ecofascists who run the state won’t hear of returning to more reliable fossil fuels. Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom wants federal money to help keep open the state’s only nuclear plant beyond its expected closure in 2025, but we don’t hear a lot of Californians clamoring to expand that clean and reliable source of energy. Instead, it’s all windmills and solar panels.

In the meantime, the state’s residents are already paying 25% more for electricity than they were last summer. That costs many folks hundreds of dollars more per month, and it’s only going to get worse on the current trajectory.

All that said, while it can be cathartic to engage in a little head-slapping schadenfreude at the troubles caused and experienced by foolish leftists, judicious consumption of any resource is a virtue. One of the great frustrations of dads all over the country is the lights left on or the doors left open by their kids. “I’m not paying to cool the outdoors!” is something most of us dads have probably hollered more than once. Waste and poor stewardship are vices that hint at the reason conservative and conservation share the same root.

But America is ostensibly a First World country, and there’s something fundamentally un-American about the kinds of warnings being issued in California, which all by itself is the world’s fifth-largest economy. This is — or should be — the land of plenty, and rolling blackouts should not be a First World problem. That they are is a testament to the damage done by the radical left-wing “environmental” movement.

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