EVs charging image by John Goreham
John Goreham's picture

Green Energy Consumers Alliance Asks EV Owners Not To Charge Their Electric Cars When This Happens

One of our go-to sources for information on electric vehicles and clean power says that if you own an EV in the Northeast, you should not plug in this afternoon. Here's why.
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One of Torque News' go-to sources of information and education materials for clean power and electric vehicles is the Green Energy Consumers Alliance. We frequently use the group's electric vehicle discount program and pricing tables in stories about EVs to illustrate just how affordable EVs can be.
Green Energy COnsumers Alliance Tweet
Today, the group is posting on its social media channels a request to those who have devices that use a lot of electricity very quickly to stop using them until the temporary heat wave passes. Among the consumer goods that draw the most current the most quickly are electric vehcles.

Not all EVs use high power when charging. Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles for example, can be plugged into a standard 115-volt outlet and will slowly draw the needed power for their relatively small batteries. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) like Teslas, by contrast, need high-amp dedicated circuits with high-amperage breakers to draw the power they need for their comparatively very large batteries. Tesla's maximum amp draw from its High Power Wall Connector can be as much as 80 amps and requires a 100 amp breaker for optimum operation. Battery-electric vehicles Like the Tesla Model S, Model X, and Model 3 draw more amps than anything else in a household. More than the furnace or heatpump. More than the refrigerator. More than the stove. More even than old-school electric baseboard heaters which are the second most thirsty devices found in a typical home.

During a heat wave, power suppliers will turn to all available sources of electricity to keep up with demand. One of the sources of that supplemental power is coal. Another oil. Another is natural gas. All of these generate carbon at a very high rate. Short of the massively polluting ships used to transport cars and other frieght and some concrete plants and smelting plants, these power plants are the largest producers of carbon on the planet. And during a heat wave, those still in operation are operating at full capacity.

Related Story (External Source) - New England’s nuclear power plants are shutting down, and that’s bad news for cutting carbon pollution

Clean power sources like solar panels and wind power are already operating at peak output whenever practical. They cannot be "ramped up" in the way that a dormant fossil-fuel plant or nuclear power plant operating at reduced capacity can be when a forecasted heat wave is approaching. With New England in the process of decommissioning its largest clean power plants, the nuclear plants, and with no replacements in process, the chances are that on a hot day it is recycled dinosaurs that are helping to supply the electrons in your home's EV charger or a public charger. And super-hot days like this will likely only come more and more often to New England.

The Green Energy Consumers Alliance offers this advice for those who own electric vehicles: "It's hot and everyone's cranking the AC, straining the power grid and demanding power from the dirtiest plants. From NOW until 8pm, here's how you can help... If you have one, don't charge your electric car."

All modern EVs have charging timers that allow for off-peak charging when an EV is parked long-term and plugged in, say in a garage for the night. However, not all EV owners have garages. Those who rely on daytime public charging, or who charge while at work or on the go may wish to take note of this public service announcement.

John Goreham is a life-long car nut and recovering engineer. John's focus areas are technology, safety, and green vehicles. In the 1990s, he was part of a team that built a solar-electric vehicle from scratch. His was the role of battery thermal control designer. John worked in the power generation industry for many years as well. In 2008 he retired from that career to chase his dream of being an auto writer. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on the Torque News Facebook Page, and view his credentials at Linkedin

EVs charging image by John Goreham. Can you spot the clue that indicates that this picture was not taken the day of the story? Green Energy Consumers Alliance Tweet courtesy of the group and Twitter.


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Comments

It is a good point to be aware of excessive power usage in general to avoid brownouts or blackouts. But EVs are not likely a problem here. The reason is that most people who own EVs subscribe to an EV rate plan which has it's lowest rate off-peak, and for partial-peak and full peak electrical use time there are higher rates. So most every EV (including Teslas) have timers that automatically charge at off peak times to reduce the cost of charging. Also most modern EVs internally have charging timers as well in case your plug or EVSE doesn't have a charge timer of it's own. But thanks for the reminder to minimize our power use during heat wave peaks. I went around my house and made sure that everything unnecessary is turned off.