California residents are being asked not to charge their electric vehicles to conserve energy amid a brutal heatwave — just days after the state announced a plan to ban sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
The plea comes as the Golden State sizzles in triple-digit temperatures, but the irony of the appeal was not lost on critics of the ambitious plan, expected to set the pace for a national and international shift to electric vehicles.
US House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) derided the about-face as a “joke.”
The California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid, issued multiple bulletins this week warning of “extreme heat” during the Labor Day weekend that is “likely to strain the grid with increased energy demands.”
The grid operator was asking residents to voluntarily reduce their power consumption by avoiding using “large appliances and charging electric vehicles” during peak usage hours of 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Temperatures were expected to reach an eye-watering 115 degrees in the coming days, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency to increase energy production, and relax rules aimed at curbing air pollution and global warming gases.
But not everyone was on board with the energy consumption reduction plan.
“California is now telling people to ‘avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles’ from 4-9pm,” Scalise tweeted.
“This from the same state that’s going to force everyone to buy electric cars by 2035. This is what Democrat control looks like — and they want it nationwide. What a joke,” he seethed.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.) sounded a similar note, tweeting: “This is the reality of backward Democrat leadership. Their ‘green energy’ infrastructure can’t even support their expensive electric vehicles.”
California state Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican, also pointed a finger of blame at Newsom’s energy policies.
“California is in an energy crisis and is struggling to keep the lights on,” Fong tweeted. “A crisis worsened by the Governor’s attempt to shut down essential oil & gas production when we need reliable & affordable energy the most.”
Just last week, the California Air Resources Board adopted what has been billed as the world’s most stringent policy for transitioning to zero-emission vehicles.
The Advanced Clean Cars II act will phase out the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 in a bid to fight pollution. If the policy works as planned, California would cut emissions from vehicles in half by 2040.
Under the measure, 35% of vehicles manufactured in 2026 and sold in the state would be required to be zero emission, up from 12% today.
More than 1 million people drive electric cars in California today, making it the nation’s largest electric vehicle market, but most motorists end up charging their cars in the evening or overnight.
Ram Rajagopal, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University who has studied car charging habits and energy grid needs, said that if people’s charging habits stay the same, once 30% to 40% of cars are electric, the state would need to add more energy capacity overnight to meet demand.
A complete transition to electric vehicles will require at least 15 times more charging stations in the state, which currently has just 80,000 public stations, a more robust energy grid and vehicles that people of all income levels can afford.
“It’s going to be very hard getting to 100%,” said Daniel Sperling, a board member and founding director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. “You can’t just wave your wand, you can’t just adopt a regulation — people actually have to buy them and use them.”
Meanwhile, California was buckling under the strain of extreme heat on Thursday, prompting fears that people will turn to air conditions and overwhelm the state’s electrical grid, which could lead to power failures and rolling blackouts.
Temperatures could be 10 to 20 degrees above normal in some regions during the day, with little relief overnight. Excessive-heat warnings were in effect for Southern California and up into the Central Valley, forecasters warned.
“All of us have been trying to outrun Mother Nature, but it’s pretty clear Mother Nature has outrun us,” Newsom said on Wednesday while declaring a state of emergency. “The reality is we’re living in an era of extremes: extreme heat, extreme drought — and with the flooding we’re experiencing around the globe.”
With Post wires