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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Oops, electric grid is in trouble, don't charge your car

Uploaded: Sep 6, 2022
California is teetering on the edge of rolling electrical blackouts for the first time in six years.
It’s so bad that the state’s grid operator has asked residents to avoid using appliances in the afternoon and evening between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. when the sun goes down and solar energy goes away. No telling how windmills will function because heat waves often means little or no wind.
It’s so extreme, with power demands today potentially reaching the all-time high, that the grid people also are asking residents who own electric vehicles not to charge them. Come again—not to charge them? How are those who were planning to use their vehicle to get to work or school or in their business supposed to cope with discharged batteries?
Mind you, two weeks ago the governor and legislators celebrated when the state air board heeded his request and banned the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles after 2035. So, will we see pictures like the one out of coal country where miners were helping a stranded motorist by pushing his electric vehicle with a discharged battery down the road?
Today, with electric vehicles making up less than 5% of the vehicles on the state’s roads, the grid cannot keep up with power demands. It will only get worse as cities follow the example set by Dublin and ban natural gas appliances in new construction—that means using electricity to heat water, dry clothes and cook.
The governor, with his ambitions for higher office, jammed a bill through the Legislature to extend the life of Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s Diablo Canyon nuclear reactor that had been scheduled to shutdown in 2025. That included a favorable $4 billion loan as well as an exemption from any environmental review. The state also has delayed the phase out of natural gas-powered peak demand power plants that are necessary during high demand periods. Given the thousands of trees that have died in the Sierra Nevada, it also allowed them to fuel other power plants beyond the scheduled termination.
Consider that PG&E will spend billions to under-ground high voltage lines crossing areas with high fire danger and that doesn’t upgrade grid capacity—it’s a safety and reliability project. What’s needed is lots more capacity for all these electrification measures and it’s needed now.
The supply chain challenges have been brought to the forefront by the pandemic, but has anyone really considered where the raw materials are going to come from for the batteries—be they storage for the grid or mobile for vehicles. And, what’s going to happen to the dead batteries when they quit working after a decade.
It’s the same with the huge windmills that have replaced the first generation wind generators. The huge blades, as this point, cannot be recycled—they’re headed for the landfill unless new technology is developed.
Newsom and the Democrats in Sacramento—to say nothing of Washington D.C.—have jumped off the climate change cliff without bothering to check and see if they had a parachute strapped on. Sadly, they are likely to take this formerly golden state down with them.

For additional perspective, check out Lee Ohanian of the Hoover Institute's column:
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Nanette Whitman, a resident of Alamo,
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:20 am

Nanette Whitman is a registered user.

Until charging stations are free, ubiquitous, and unaffected by grid blackouts, EVs will not become mainstream regardless of climate change, Newsom mandates, and evangelical EV bandwagon mentalities.

Only hydrogen and/or nuclear power vehicles remain our practical options.

Posted by Dirk Svensen, a resident of Country Fair,
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:20 am

Dirk Svensen is a registered user.

I was an outside contractor for PG&E working on a project at Diablo Canyon a few years back when the utility decided to shut down due to the ongoing political and regulatory hurdles (making it expensive energy). So I personally lost out on some income (tens of thousands of dollars). While this is sometimes expected - it did not need to happen. Could you also imagine what has been spent since to shut this down, only to do a 180 degree turn later? Will anyone ask that question?

The level of incompetence is staggering - ideology over realistic practicality.

Yet - Newsom will likely be reelected because the press will simply bury the broader story. The press will lightly cover these issues (just enough so they can say they covered them), place them low on the page, or place them well beyond Page A1. This very much includes Livermore's Independent. None of press are asking the right questions or following-up on these major stories.

Posted by Dirk Svensen, a resident of Country Fair,
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:21 am

Dirk Svensen is a registered user.

"Only hydrogen and/or nuclear power vehicles remain our practical options."

Bingo. Yet other technologies we are forbidden to talk about.

Posted by Marcel Wilkens, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2022 at 11:54 am

Marcel Wilkens is a registered user.

Governor Newsom is bringing CA into the future.

Of note, horse-driven carriages and wagons were eventually replaced by 'horseless carriages' and trucks.


Posted by Edie Parsons, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 6, 2022 at 12:21 pm

Edie Parsons is a registered user.

"Governor Newsom is bringing CA into the future."

Not quite...Newsom is doing his best to ENSLAVE Californians to an electrical grid, one in which only the likes of PG&E and San Diego Gas & Electric will prosper.

Posted by Dirk Svensen, a resident of Country Fair,
on Sep 6, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Dirk Svensen is a registered user.

Marcel Wilkens: You might contribute something to the conversation instead of the personal attacks on us locals. That does not help forward solutions. Nobody said anything about not supporting EV (or climate change). If you read between the lines here, this is about planning and timing.

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