Governor Newsom Fix Our Power Infrastructure First!

You may have read that Gov. Newsom wants to phase out non-zero emission vehicles by 2035. I would not bet money on it happening.

First let me clarify what I believe the Executive Order states. It does not make gasoline powered vehicles illegal. It states that by 2035 the only new vehicles that will be able to be sold will be zero emission passenger vehicles. This is an admirable goal but is it realistic?

We have to admit that air quality is important. Is there anyone who does not enjoy breathing? So we have a duty to make the air, and the whole environment, as clean as possible. I accept that.

Right now pure electric vehicles are the best choice for zero emissions but as others have pointed out the electricity has to be generated. Around 47% of California’s electricity comes from dirty sources (coal, natural gas, nuclear, oil, and other petroleum). Twelve percent comes from hydro-electric plants (and let’s not ignore that some of these are being removed). Just shy of 23% comes from wind and solar.

Perhaps the weakest link in electricity delivery is in the power lines. If you live in California you have experienced the rolling blackouts during an ever-increasing fire season. Add in brown-outs when usage outstrips production and you can see we are already at the limits of the current power grid(s).

California uses 195,000 gWh (a giga Watt hour is equivalent to one million kilowatt hours) of electricity each year. A household with three residents uses about 6,000 kWh (kilo watt hours) per year. There are 11.5-million households in California, 4-million small businesses, and there are still some large businesses (I couldn’t find an exact number for the large businesses). I think it is obvious that we are at the limit of our electricity generation.

Now let’s see how much these zero-emission, electric vehicles may use. There are approximately 2,000,000 new vehicles sold every year in California. In just 2035 under Gov. Newsom’s plan that would be 2,000,000 zero emission vehicles. Right now there are around 300,000 electric vehicles in California.

An electric vehicle uses between 40-100 kWh to recharge totally. If an electric vehicle is driven the same distances as a gasoline vehicle (13,636 miles per year) it will need to be recharged between 60-150 times every year (all this is dependent on the vehicle of course). Let’s say 100 times per year; that means each vehicle will use maybe 7,000 kWh per year (using 70 kWh to recharge). Two million electric vehicles might need 14 gWh.

Under Gov. Newsom’s plan there would be way more than 2-million zero (electric?) vehicles by 2035, a mere 15 years away. Just around 100,000 electric vehicles were sold in California in 2019. That will have to drastically ramp up to get to 2-million per year.

The big fly in the ointment is and will be electricity production and delivery. Mandating zero emission vehicles sounds great but maybe it puts the cart before the horse (or whatever is the equivalent of our modern age).

From my perspective electricity delivery is the absolute weakest link. Power lines have been cited as the cause of some of our terrible fires. To avoid this power needs to be generated closer to the end users.

Solar is a good first step – it is clean and can be installed just about anywhere the sun shines. The price has come down but it is still too expensive for most home owners. Figure on paying over $15,000 for a house of around 2,500 square feet. Add in the cost of a new roof (another $9-$12 grand) and it is out of reach for the vast majority of homeowners.

Governor Newsom I urge you to reconsider your Executive Order. Look at a way to put solar on every single building in California first. Let’s get our electricity grid in order before we over tax it even more.

I got all my facts and figures from the Internet. Some are already out of date but they are the latest I could find. Usage and dollar amounts are estimates.


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