PG&E, Elon Musk brainstorm ways to meet growing electricity needs

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, July 26, 2023
PG&E, Elon Musk brainstorm ways to meet growing electricity needs
Tesla founder Elon Musk virtually joined PG&E CEO Patricia Poppe at the company's Innovation Summit to talk about future electricity generation needs.

SAN RAMON (KGO) -- Energy leaders convened in San Ramon Tuesday for PG&E Innovation Summit 2023. Even Elon Musk popped in virtually to talk about future electricity generation needs.

Tesla founder Elon Musk joined PG&E's CEO for a riveting reality check. In order to power all the electric vehicles that will be coming down the road and the electric heaters and stoves that will replace natural gas - what will it take?

"I would just say whatever your demand, predictions are for electricity, I suspect they are too low - we need a tripling of output. You can mark my words here - output will triple," Musk said.

The challenge is how to upgrade electrical output at the lowest cost to society. It will cost billions for a utility that's already struggling financially with lawsuits.

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"We have to have a grid that is ready for the demand electrification will bring and having a regulatory construct that enables that," PG&E CEO Patricia Poppe said. An engineering team that goes from a mindset of operate and maintain to a mindset of growth."

How to integrate all the electric vehicles with the multitudes of new solar, wind and battery resources requires a new platform, including a new "Distributive Energy Resource Management System" unveiled Tuesday by PG&E, Microsoft and Schneider Electric.

Musk urged the crowd to think less about building new power plants.

"Fortunately we have the sun, which is throwing off absurd amounts of energy and it's zero maintenance and it shows up everyday," Musk said. "It's amazing!"

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