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California might be blazing a trail with getting a large number of electric vehicles on the road, but the only trail California is currently blazing is the wildfire/PG&E fiasco that could once again plunge millions of Californians into the dark in the next wave of blackouts, expected today, the likes of which could sour investor confidence in purchasing a vehicle that relies on sketchy power sources.
It’s windy in dry California, and apparently that’s enough to trigger another preemptive blackout for PG&E customers. For starters, PG&E will cut power to 179,000 residents on Wednesday.
But it’s not just PG&E. Other utilities, too, such as Edison International and Sempra, are also expected to cut off power to hundreds of thousands of Californians who are in an area that is notoriously dry, with winds expected to combine with those dry conditions to create too much of a fire risk.
The result? A blackout akin to the Venezuela 2019 blackouts that kept millions in the dark.
The blackouts—which one might expect from a third-world or mismanaged nation such as Venezuela or even Pakistan, which leads the world in the number of annual blackouts—are life and death for some California residents, and the problem isn’t expected to be resolved anytime soon. But it also may mean life and death for California’s plan to encourage residents to adopt EVs.
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Unlike third-world blackouts, critical California operations such as medical facilities are all equipped with backup generators for times of outage. But residents who rely on electricity to power medical devices are at great risk. And EV owners may find themselves stranded.
The PG&E purposeful blackouts are part of a wildfire safety program that the state-mandated after the wine country fires that overtook $9.4 billion in property. The cause of that fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, was PG&E equipment. PG&E points the finger at the usual suspect: climate change.
As for those electric vehicles that various California state agencies have earmarked $2.46 billion in public funds for—the state might do better to spend that money on some plan to keep the lights on. If that thought is not palatable enough for Californians, the state could earmark those funds as a way to keep those EVs charged.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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Julianne Geiger is a veteran editor, writer and researcher for Oilprice.com, and a member of the Creative Professionals Networking Group.