My Car Quest

February 23, 2024

Rolling Blackouts Threaten Electric Vehicle Owners in California

I have received three text messages this week (including one today) from our power company that is the largest in California (Pacific Gas & Electric).

Each message said,

PG&E Alert: Extreme heat is straining California’s grid. Save energy from 4-9pm to prevent outages.

I do not remember getting this type of message before. If we are in a permanent climate change situation then these messages will be more frequent and the strain on our power grid will impact our ability to charge, and thus drive, our electric cars.

The US power grid is in questionable condition as it is but add the burden of charging electric vehicles plus extreme heat waves and we have a problem.

This may be happening where you live too and if not it may happen in the near future. Read on to see what Wallace Wyss has to say on this important subject.

Mike Gulett, Editor

by Wallace Wyss –

Somehow the electric car future got a little dimmer when California homeowners were told during a heat wave to voluntarily cut back on electricity use in their home between 4 pm and 9 pm, on a few occasions.

The alternative, if too many homes use electricity in those hours is an involuntary blackout–a complete cut off of electricity. The governor of California urged the public to comply voluntarily, but didn’t address how this squares with re-charging electric cars. Some cars take over twelve hours to charge, especially if you don’t have the more robust 220-volt home changing systems.

Photo Credit: Luis Sinco - Los Angeles Times

Photo Credit: Luis Sinco – Los Angeles Times

When the visionaries who want the whole state to go electric supported the Governor’s plan for all new cars to be electric they didn’t anticipate the recent shifts in climate change that will make heat waves more common, heat waves that would overload the electric supply line and make it impossible for all electric car owners to recharge their cars. And this is when electric cars are only less than 4% of the total. What if they get to be over 50% of all licensed vehicles? Plus cost of the materials needed to make electric car batteries are skyrocketing which means under-$30,000 EV cars might be hard to make.

The average price of EVs now in California is over $60K. Since in most neighborhoods you can’t find a home for under $400,000, that’s a high expense to add to the family budget.

The governor has plenty of plans for the state’s $97.5 billion budget surplus but none of them seem to address getting more water into the state to power hydroelectric plants. Lake Mead, is in Nevada but it is too low on water to power the turbines. And there’s no talk, that I have heard, of reactivating atomic energy plants to produce more electricity.

While hydrogen cars are rarely mentioned now somehow the cost of materials seems brighter over there–hydrogen is said to be the second most common material on earth. I think the possibility of a dark horse coming to replace the EV shouldn’t be discounted and should even be encouraged.

If you research cars at the turn of the early 20th century, internal combustion cars were once neck and neck with electrics but once the self starter made it easier to start without breaking your arm, ICE cars walked away from electrics.

Yep, invention of the self-starter definitely did in both electrics and also steam cars, both of which had a decent representation in the beginning.

Hydrogen is probably the best 21st Century dark horse contender. However, handling hydrogen (to prevent escape) is very hardware cost intensive now.

Where is the development money going to come from? Well, Stellantis is facing $300 million in fines for lying about diesels (using the same style trick software VW used earlier.) I say those fine monies should go into research into alternatives to EVs. The irony could be that the lying automakers of ICE cars could pay for an alternative to ICE cars without all the drawbacks of EVs.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss art

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss (rhymes with reese) is presently in the fine arts world as a portraitist of classic cars. For pricing information write malibcarart@gmai.com

 
 
 
 
 

Photo credit- Felton Davis

Photo credit- Felton Davis

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Rolling Blackouts Threaten Electric Vehicle Owners in California
Article Name
Rolling Blackouts Threaten Electric Vehicle Owners in California
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Somehow the electric car future got a little dimmer when California homeowners were told during a heat wave to voluntarily cut back on electricity use.
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Comments

  1. William Marks says

    As a kid in Idaho in 1949, the big news was that the Atomic Energy Commission had started researching atomic power plants by making a new town called Arco. While diving through it a few years ago, on seeing a sign saying, “First Atomic Power Plant”; I took a guided tour of it. Built back then in 1949 by locals who did construction of farm equipment, it worked well and was, years later, shut down by overheating it on purpose to see if it would do this safely, which it did.
    Now, after decades of research funded by the government, Nuscale Energy, is supplying atomic power plants with safe modular atomic reactors that are mass manufactured and shipped to the world. Nine feet in diameter and six stories high, they are broken down to be transported on trucks. They can shut themselves down without using electricity (AC or DC) when needed to by just using gravity. They can be changed out for replacement at the site.
    Check out: https://www.nuscalepower.com/projects
    We can safely and sustainably make massive amounts of power now and not need coal, sunshine, oil or wind.

  2. Governor Newsom wants to ban gas cars by 2035. He also wants to run for president in 2024. The news programs do not report on all of the problems we’re having in California which are too numerous to mention and this is not the place for that discussion.

    He’s asking everyone in California to dial back electricity use during peak hours including, air conditioning, during a heat wave. He made a TV appearance wearing a pull-over hoodie sweat shirt. You can bet his house/office a/c is not set at 78. This is the same guy caught partying at the French Laundry restaurant without a mask, during COVID-19 while making masks mandatory for everyone else.

    The State legislature, power agency bureaucrats, and everyone involved want to switch to total renewable green energy as soon as possible, ready or not. As Wallace points out this is not practical. We are forced to buy power from Arizona or ? that use “DIRTY” disgusting coal or natural gas to generate power, sound familiar? We won’t use “DIRTY” power from our state but we don’t mind buying it from our neighbors. He has been forced to activate generators fueled by natural gas during this “emergency”.

    To his credit he is trying to extend the closing of the last nuclear power plant left in California, the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, until 2025.

    He is literally making speeches asking California residents to “help him out”. He sees how all of California’s Green new Deal B.S. might impact his presidential run.

    He’s like Slim Pickens riding the nuclear bomb, in this case California, into the ground in the movie Doctor Strangelove. Yeeee Haaaawwww!

  3. wallace wyss says

    But the Russian reactor meltdown and the Japanese reactor flooding out scared people that nuclear is unsafe. Only if some other country goes heavy on nuclear plants (like France is going to do) will the public welcome them again.European countries will be more likely to return to them soon because the Russians are jacking them around on gas and oil prices. When the Yurrips freeze their cookies this winter, they will consider the alternatives. Americans could still drill for oil and gas (and open the pipelines) if the Greenies are forced to give in.

  4. Since you mentioned Wally

    I bet France can charge their EVs

    Nuclear power in France

    Nuclear power is since the mid 1980s the largest source of electricity in France, with in 2019 a generation of 379.5 TWh and a total electricity production of 537.7 TWh. In 2018, the nuclear share was 71.67%, the highest percentage in the world.
    Since June 2020, it has 56 operable reactors totalling 61,370 MWe, one under construction, and 14 shut down or in decommissioning. In May 2022, EDF reported that twelve reactors were shut down and being inspected for stress corrosion, requiring EDF to adjust its French nuclear output estimate for 2022 to 280-300 TWh; the estimate of the impact of the decrease in output on the Group’s EBITDA for 2022 was assessed to be -€18,5 billion.

    Électricité de France – the country’s main electricity generation and distribution company – manages the country’s 56 power reactors. EDF is substantially owned by the French Government, with around 85% shares in government hands. -Wikipedia

  5. Ken Phillips says

    I was in the office of the person responsible for electric power for all of Long Island , New York . He was running late for a plan to hedge the cost to generate the power. When he came in he was in rough shape having just driven back from Albany and his important presentation about future requirements for additional electical power generating and transmiting systems. He was a fine engineer. He had brought with him extensive research on what was needed and financial support required.
    The NY State congressmen attacked him personally as if he was trying to steal the funds. He was not used to that treatment There would be no funds.
    That was 1979.
    You might be shocked at the ignorance of the elected people with the power to make these decisions.

  6. Robert Feldman says

    Governor Newsome and the California Air Research Board are getting ready to enact the “Advanced Clean Fleet Proposal” that will force Zero Emissions Vehicles on commercial fleets starting in Q1/2024 just 15 months from now. Their goal is to eliminate the sale of ICE trucks and cars, and ultimately ban them from the road all together. I have attached an article from Heavy Duty Trucking magazine that outlines the entire proposal.
    How is it that Newsome and his ilk can push electric cars and trucks as if this will save the planet, when they have not mentioned a word about how to increase and deliver electricity to support the technology shift? The new “Inflation Reduction Act” has tax credits available for electric vehicle purchases as long as they are “American Made” (read UNION MADE) where a lot of political donations come from.
    Meanwhile, the cost of electric vehicles keep climbing as battery costs and other raw materials accelerate. Isn’t it strange how the price of electric cars went up after new incentives were announced? With the price of an average electric car being 60K, even if you put 10K down to buy one, you are going to have a payment over 700.00 for 6 years. How much gas money will you save? When will you be able to charge your car? What will a replacement battery pack cost? Car dealerships are struggling to learn the new technology. Forget independent mechanics.
    The long term support is not in place and won’t be for years. The only way to use an electric car is to lease one to avoid the back end disaster. The numbers for commercial trucks are even more dismal.

    https://www.truckinginfo.com/10180864/what-to-know-about-the-advanced-clean-fleet-proposal#.Yx80IHlsAjI.mailto

  7. Robb Northrup says

    A couple of things:

    1. We recently got texts from our electrical supplier – Overton Power – requesting we cut back on our usage of electricity during peak hours. Which we do anyway as we’re retired. And we live in Nevada! It’s enough for California to cut back on power, but when the State requests those in other States to do the same, that’s enough!

    2. My first job out of Journalism School was as a tech and PR writer for a company developing hydrogen as a fuel: autos, small engines (read lawnmowers), gas stoves and ovens, furnaces, etc.). The strategy was to develop the technology to contain hydrogen for use in these areas. Metal hydrides were used in the “gas tanks” of autos, which would absorb the hydrogen and then release it when heated by engine coolant. A simple gaseous carburetor was used (same as used on natural gas-fueled vehicles) and absolutely no change to basic piston engine technology. The manufacturing infrastructure was (and is) already there. The second phase was to develop mass-produced fuel cells which convert hydrogen into electricity. This was in 1978.

    As is typical with “progressive” thinking, only one solution can work and that is what is promoted (i.e. shoved down our throats via the proponents and the media). Anyone who disagrees, or provides an alternative, is quickly discredited. Electric vehicles relying on current battery technology bring with them many undesirable consequences (from the mining of lithium and other materials used to make the batteries to replacement when worn out to disposal), including the current (no pun intended) lack of electric power generation to keep pace with our needs, let alone charging millions of new EVs. And there’s no national strategy to develop the power we’ll need in the future. A current political ad touts the new climate and health bill that promotes developing wind, solar and electrical power. Don’t wind and solar generate electricity?

    So, what about hydrogen now? What about gas turbines which can run on just about anything that burns (can’t we grow some of these clean “fuels?”). And steam power hasn’t even been considered (remember Bill Lear’s IndyCar project? We might have the technology today to make it happen).

    The Bible talks about Armageddon at the end of the world. I think California will be facing one shortly.

    Robb

  8. wallace wyss says

    The way Rob describes the fanaticism of the pro-electric group suddenly reminded me of that religious cult that went from the US to Central America to create an ideal egalitarian society their way. But when it began to fragment, the leader , Jim Jones, convinced the whole group to “drink the Kool-Aid” and commit mass suicide. Maybe that’s Newsom’s grand plan–create a ideal zero carbon society or die trying….and take all of us captive Californians with him.

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