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No Fun in the California Sun

No Fun in the California Sun

The state says don’t charge the EVs it will soon force you to buy.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Aug. 31, 2022 6:41 pm ET

It was bound to happen. After skating through the summer without rolling blackouts, Californians on Wednesday were told to raise their thermostats to 78 degrees and avoid charging electric vehicles during peak hours as a heat wave grips the state. Good thing new gas-powered cars won’t be banned until 2035.

Heat waves aren’t unusual, and not long ago California and other states were able to manage through them without having to resort to emergency measures. No more. Californians last summer were repeatedly asked to conserve power to prevent blackouts. The state has also extended the life of several gas-fired power plants that were set to close, but this hasn’t been enough.

So the state has been procuring power at exorbitant prices to keep the lights on. California’s residential electricity prices surged by 25% in June over the prior year—about twice as much as they have increased nationwide. Many Californians have seen their electricity bills shoot up by hundreds of dollars a month.

Yet a wobbling grid and soaring prices are no longer only a #Californiaproblem. Texas—the land of fossil fuel abundance—last month also urged energy conservation, prompting some manufacturers to scale back operations. Residential retail prices in Texas’s deregulated market have increased 70% in the past year.

It doesn’t take an electrical engineer to understand the problem. More subsidized renewable energy has been pouring onto the grid, which has been making it harder for baseload fossil fuel and nuclear plants to make money. California’s last nuclear plant is set to retire in 2025, but Mr. Newsom is begging the Biden Administration for money to keep it afloat.

Meantime, the state Air Resources Board last week issued aggressive EV mandates that will ban the sale of new-gas powered cars by 2035. EVs will stress the grid even more. A 2020 study estimated that the charging infrastructure for each EV will cost $5,100. Better hold on to that gas guzzler if you want to drive to the beach to escape the heat.

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