Californians were warned by the state’s grid operator that they might be asked not to charge electric vehicles in the coming days to prevent blackouts amid a regional heatwave—coming less than a week after state regulators voted to phase out new gas-powered vehicles in favor of electric cars by 2035.
California Independent System Operator said in a release that starting Wednesday, an “excessive” and “extreme” heatwave will inundate the Golden State and the western United States. It said that a “flex alert” will likely be required and said it “expects to call on Californians for voluntary energy conservation.”
That includes holding off on charging electric vehicles in the afternoon and early evening.
“During a Flex Alert, consumers are urged to reduce energy use from 4–9 p.m. when the system is most stressed because demand for electricity remains high and there is less solar energy available. The top three conservation actions are to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights,” the ISO said.
“Lowering electricity use during that time will ease strain on the system, and prevent more drastic measures, including rotating power outages.”
In recent years, the California grid operator has issued flex alerts and made similar statements calling on residents to hold off on charging electric cars.
The operator in mid-July 2021 posted a Twitter message that Californians between 4 and 9 p.m. should not charge their electric vehicles and other devices.
The unelected California Air Resources Board (CARB) last Friday voted unanimously to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles, other than some plug-in hybrids, by 2035 as it attempts to transition toward electric vehicles. The state also set targets to require 35 percent of new vehicles sold in the state to produce “zero emissions” by 2026 and said that by 2030, 68 percent of new vehicles need to do the same.
As part of the rule, California regulators will issue fines of up to $20,000 for every vehicle that doesn’t meet the production target by 2035, CARB Chairwoman Liane Randolph told the New York Times.
“We recognize that not everyone is going to be buying a very expensive, brand-new car,” Randolph told the newspaper. “But we also know that prices will go down in the future.”
While Randolph and others have said the price of electric vehicles will go down, the data shows otherwise.
The average price of an electric vehicle in July 2022 was $62,893, up about 15 percent from $54,797 a year earlier, said Edmunds, a car pricing service.
“We all wish there were more affordable [electric vehicles] in the marketplace today—there are none,” Edmunds analyst Ivan Drury told Axios earlier this month about prices.
Some automotive groups say the new statewide mandates will be very challenging to meet.
“Whether or not these requirements are realistic or achievable is directly linked to external factors like inflation, charging and fuel infrastructure, supply chains, labor, critical mineral availability and pricing, and the ongoing semiconductor shortage,” President of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation John Bozzella told the New York Times last week.