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OpEd: EVs and the Electric Grid

By Keith Tucker

Guest Columnist

The rush is on to put us all into an electric vehicle (EV). So, the question I’ve been hearing is how are we going to charge all of them. The very first thing that needs to happen is a mandate that all charging outlets have to be able to charge any brand of vehicle.  

So, right now there are 1.3 million EVs out of 275-million registered personal vehicles. By 2030, the goal is 33 million. There are 3 levels of chargers – 1, 2 and 3. 

The first is 120 volts you can plug into any home outlet, which will charge overnight. 

Level 2 is 240 volts that will take the same breaker as an electric range and charges in 3 or 4 hours. 

Level 3 is a commercial 30-minute charger used at a lot of roadside-charging stations. Presently, the battery range is 275 miles. But in the cold weather and at night, that is cut in half.  One upside is the electricity cost per mile is about a nickel versus 15 cents a mile for the average gas vehicle.

For level-1 charging, the average home will be able to plug up two cars with no problem. There’s very few homes that will support two level-2 chargers with the existing home electric panel box. By 2050, about one-fifth of all generating capacity will go to charging EV batteries. On a related note, we are going electric to combat global warming. China is opening up two, new coal-fired generating plants every week. There were 106 new plants burning coal this year to generate electricity to run the electric cars and support an expanding economy. 

And here, we have a total of 350 coal-fired plants left, with that number reduced to 173 by 2030. They’re expected to be replaced with 152 natural-gas-fired plants and two new nuclear plants and a host of wind and solar farms. 

Do you get the idea that no matter what we do, India and China will offset our going-green efforts with new coal plants? None of these figures take into account the rush to go away from home gas ranges and heat units to electric stoves and heat pumps, which takes even more generating capacity.

It looks like the tail is wagging the dog rather than the other way around.

Keith Tucker is a Greenfield resident and owner of The Marble Shop.

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