How CA will need to adapt to Flex Alerts with electric vehicle use expanding

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, September 2, 2022
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Owners of electric vehicles are being asked to avoid charging their cars during the Flex Alert, but many weren't even aware the request was made.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Owners of electric vehicles are being asked to avoid charging their cars during the ongoing Flex Alert Thursday and Friday to avoid putting added pressure on the grid. The Flex Alert is running from 4 to 9 p.m.

However, very few EV owners knew the request was made by the California Independent System Operator, which monitors real-time grid conditions.

"I didn't hear about it so I didn't know about it," complained Ahmad Peivandi of Fremont.

Once Peivandi was told, he immediately opted for charging his EV closer to midday putting less demand on the grid.

"If I know there's an alert I would do it because probably it's going to cause problems somewhere else, outages," he said.

RELATED: Flex Alert issued in California as parts of state could see 8 consecutive days of triple-digit heat

But most EV owners charge their vehicles after work when they get home.

"The grid is going to have to be a lot larger maybe 20, 30 percent larger just to meet that extra demand," explained David Victor of the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy.

Professor Victor says California will have to expand the electrical grid to accommodate the demand and people will also have to be more flexible.

"So what we really need to do is convince people to move their charging from night time to the middle of the day and that means for people who are back in the office, that means work-place charging, parking your car and having a device there that can charge the car," added Professor Victor.

According to Governor Newsom's office, there are more than 1.1 million EVs registered in the state. California controls the market with 39 percent of all EVs in the country.

RELATED: In push for zero emissions, California bans sales of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035

By 2035 all new cars here will be zero-emission vehicles, most pulling from the grid.

So how do EV owners become immune to these Flex Alerts years from now?

Scott Painter is the CEO and founder of Autonomy, an electric vehicle subscription app. He says expanding DC charging stations will help because they are battery-powered and charge a vehicle in minutes.

"So when you go and charge at a DC fast-charging station you are not putting load on the grid so that's going to be by far the most responsible way for EV owners to lighten the load on the grid," said Painter.

The California legislature has made it a goal to have 10,000 DC fast charging stations across the state by 2025.

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