Refrain from fueling your vehicle between 4 and 9 p.m.
How would such a declaration by Sacramento play at the ballot box on Nov. 8?
It is exactly what the state has asked EV owners not to do during the current heat wave that will enter its 10th day on Friday.
EV owners, at least Tesla drivers on road trips, took the warning to heart as a drive by Saturday of Manteca’s two supercharger stations — in the Target parking lot and in the Bass Pro Shops parking lot — shortly after 1 p.m. revealed only a handful of vacant charging stations.
The reason for the plea from Sacramento was simple.
The extreme heat wave was expected to strain the power transmission grid dangerously close to overload as people tried to stay cool in temperatures that were hitting 100 to 115 degrees up and down the state.
New renewables — biomass, solar, geothermal, wind, and small hydro — accounted for 33.6 percent of the electricity produced and consumed in California in 2021.
That’s based on data compiled by the California Energy Commission.
Large hydro, which the state doesn’t consider renewable, is struggling due to the drought. Even so, it produced 9.2 percent of the state’s power in 2021.
Nuclear power — read that Diablo Canyon that Sacramento just extended its life after 2025 — produced 9.2 percent of the electricity.
Ready for some more stats?
The California DMV in 2021 registered 18,500,000 vehicles. Of those, 537,070 are EVs.
That means EVs account for only 3 percent of all registered vehicles in California.
Gov. Gavin Newsom was sweating the fact that drivers of 3 percent of the registered vehicles could plunge the California into widespread blackouts if enough of them “refueled” between 4 and 9 p.m. during the heat wave.
Newsom in May was shocked — pun intended — into the course of action he’s taking during the current extreme heat wave and his move to extend the life of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant — by a sobering projection.
Based on what has unfolded, both are responsible moves on Newsom’s part.
The three agencies responsible for keeping the electricity flowing in the state — the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Independent System Operator — in May warned California could face a potential shortfall of 1,700 megawatts this summer.
That translates into no power for between 1 and 4 million Californians.
The perfect alignment of extreme heat and wildfires was estimated to create an addition shortfall of 5,000 megawatts especially if key transmission lines were impacted.
Here’s some more stats that might surprise you.
California, based on the United States Energy Information Administration using 2020 data, is near the bottom of per capita energy use for all categories — residential, commercial, industrial, and — transportation.
The Golden State was the 50th lowest out of 51 — (the District of Columbia is included) — when it came to per capita use of energy in the residential sector.
Ready for another interesting stat?
The California ISO notes per capita electricity consumption has dropped since 1998.
Peak loads, as an example, in 2021 was 43,983 megawatts on Sept. 8 at 5:32 p.m.
The peak load 23 years earlier in 1998 was 44,659 megawatts on Aug, 12 of that year at 2:30 p.m.
The Boston Consulting Group — a private sector guru on major infrastructure needs — released a study showing utilities with between 2 and 3 million customers will need to spend $1,700 to $5,000 on average per customer to upgrade their systems and power sources to accommodate universal EV usage.
That comes with another study that projects by 2050 EVs worldwide will go from 7 million to 400 million. Along with it will be a global need to increase electricity production by 40 percent.
In short, green energy needs to not just replace existing non-green energy but also increase worldwide electricity production by 40 percent.
Toss in a few other details.
The advice given during rolling brownouts in 2000 and 2001 was that the state’s power grid for transmission electricity needed to have more parallel lines and such. That is on top of aging transmission lines (think Paradise fire where PG&E killed 85 people) and antiquated transfer stations. In short, the grid was adequate and needed updating. Nothing on any significant scale has been done.
The state is switching to 100 percent non-fossil fuel powered car sales by 2035.
At the same time California is moving toward a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio by 2045.
One might incorrectly come to the conclusion that EVs are a bad idea.
That isn’t the case.
Rather it stands as an indictment on the shallow follow through Sacramento needs to do to make various initiatives to work.
As such, it underscores how it is an exercise in futility to try and ram a square peg through a much smaller hole without first making the hole big enough to let the square peg pass through.
Sacramento, it seems, can’t be bothered with the details when it comes to the basic boring responsibilities of government such as water, flood protection, and energy stability.
Even when they do have plans they move at a pace that would makes a snail seem lightning fast in comparison.
Worse yet, when they have boatloads of money flowing into state coffers they don’t put towards improvising traditional infrastructure that is the foundation for everything in California. Instead, they chase baubles by inventing new spending initiatives.
The “please don’t charge your EV between 4 and 9 p.m.” plea is the direct result of the hummingbird effect in Sacramento.
Our elected leaders are too busy zipping from one issue to another to devote the follow though needed to make government work for the people instead of against them.