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Power Transportation Hardware

First Electric Cars Have Power Industry Worried 450

Hugh Pickens writes "Jonathan Fahey writes for AP that as the first mass-market electric cars go on sale next month, the power industry faces a huge growth opportunity, with SoCal Edison expecting to be charging 100,000 cars by 2015 and California setting a goal of 1 million electric vehicles by 2020. But utility executives are worried that the difficulty of keeping the lights on for the first crop of buyers — and their neighbors — could slow the growth of this industry because it's inevitable that electric utilities will suffer some difficulties early on. 'We are all going to be a lot smarter two years from now,' says Mark Perry, director of product planning for Nissan North America. When plugged into a home charging station the first Leafs and Volts will draw 3,300 Watts and take about 8 hours to deliver a full charge, but both carmakers may soon boost that to 6,600 Watts. The Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car with a huge battery, can draw 16,800 Watts. That means that adding an electric vehicle or two to a neighborhood can be like adding another house, and it can stress the equipment that services those houses. The problem is that transformers that distribute power from the electrical grid to homes are often designed to handle less than about 12,000 watts so the extra stress on a transformer from one or two electric vehicles could cause it to overheat and fail, knocking out power to the block."
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First Electric Cars Have Power Industry Worried

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  • Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:18AM (#34363930)
    Good! Maybe one the shit blows up they can replace the 50 year old hardware that's been causing brownouts in California since the early 80s.
    • Re:Good! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by davepermen ( 998198 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:26AM (#34363990)
      +1 they deserve it. just as the car industry didn't want to move along for a long time, so didn't they. they deserve having to move on again, finally.
      • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by realityimpaired ( 1668397 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @12:03PM (#34364930)

        And here I was planning on spending mod points on this one instead, but I just can't let this one slide...

        Keeping in mind that I'm an environmentalist myself when I say this... the reason that the power industry in California hasn't moved at the rate it needs to is because of the enviro-nazis blocking the construction of nuclear and coal plants, and the NIMBY folks refusing to allow wind farms to be built near them. Solar's an option, but it uses a *lot* of real estate, which is at a premium in California, and there simply isn't enough moving water in California to supply the state's need with hydro-electric power.

        There's large swaths of desert in eastern California that'd be perfect for solar plants, but you'd run into transmission problems, because most of that territory is nowhere near where the electricity is actually needed. Similarly, tidal power is an option off the coast of California, but that would be a tourism nightmare: there's tons of dive sites in California that attract divers from around the world, myself included.

        If the power grid in California is going to evolve to meet the needs of the state, then one of two things need to happen: people need to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that coal power is nowhere near as dirty as it was even 15 years ago (and *that* was a far cry from the level of pollution produced 50 years ago by coal), or they need to understand that the wind generators need to go somewhere and find a way to build it into the landscape.

        I'm lucky: I live in an area where almost 100% of the electricity on the grid is provided by hydro. (Quebec). But that isn't an option in California, and they need to look into other options.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by cdrguru ( 88047 )

          The answer that everyone seems to be gravitating towards is the obvious one - just use less. Less electricity means less coal being burned and no need for real estate being dedicated to wind farms or solar PV farms.

          It might also mean that California would be a lot less popular as a destination for people, meaning that the population would shrink. Fewer people means less electricity being used.

          If the economy ends up being a little worse that Mexico's this would go a long way to stopping the migration from

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ArcherB ( 796902 )

            The answer that everyone seems to be gravitating towards is the obvious one - just use less.

            From a guy using an electricity powered computer to post an electronic message over an electricity powered Internet.

            "You First" doesn't begin to cover it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jeremi ( 14640 )

              From a guy using an electricity powered computer to post an electronic message over an electricity powered Internet.

              What's the issue here? Computers these days do use less power than they did in the past. Laptops, iPads, mac minis, netbooks, etc... they all use less than the ugly tower machines of past years. Ditto with LCD screens instead of CRTs, OS's with intelligent sleep modes, etc.

              So likely the parent poster has already 'gone first'.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tomhudson ( 43916 )
          It will be less of a problem in California because California has been bleeding jobs [] and investment [], and more jobs [].

          People are leaving California. It's not JUST the rotten schools, the traffic jams, the lack of jobs, the rising budget deficit, with no solution in sight [], the huge stockpile of underwater homes - it's all of them combined.

          A destitute California won't be able to continue to offer state $$$$ (or IOUs, since they won't have any "real" money) for switching to an electric car.

        • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Capt. Skinny ( 969540 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @02:46PM (#34366198)

          the NIMBY folks refusing to allow wind farms to be built near them

          tidal power is an option... but that would be a tourism nightmare: there's tons of dive sites in California that attract divers from around the world, myself included

          I think you've demonstrated that we're all "NIMBY folks" in some form or another. You dive, so you recognize the value of preserving dive sites. The folks who object to wind farms surely have their own reasons that many of us just don't see or understand. Ditto for the cohorts opposed to hydro or nuclear.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Coal? you think Coal is a better option than Nuclear?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MrKaos ( 858439 )

          If the power grid in California is going to evolve to meet the needs of the state, then one of two things need to happen: people need to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that coal power is nowhere near as dirty as it was even 15 years ago (and *that* was a far cry from the level of pollution produced 50 years ago by coal), or they need to understand that the wind generators need to go somewhere and find a way to build it into the landscape.

          I think you are missing the point. All of this talk

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ErikZ ( 55491 ) * on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:37AM (#34364052)

      The brownouts in CA were caused by the lack of supply. That's why CA has to buy electricity from other states.

      If it were a hardware problem, buying electricity from other states wouldn't help.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Rockoon ( 1252108 )

        The brownouts in CA were caused by the lack of supply.

        ..and the lack of supply was caused by a failed attempt by the State government to fix prices.

        • Re:Good! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:29AM (#34364344)

          Actually, from what I recall, it was due to deregulation, not price fixing.


          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by hsmith ( 818216 )
            Deregulation doesn't matter when you have environmental policies that disallow you from building new power plants.
          • You recall wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:17AM (#34364634)

            From the article you linked:

            "Before this week's power outages, California Governor Gray Davis's efforts to secure adequate supplies of electricity appeared to have stabilized the situation, at least until summer. The state is paying $45 million a day to subsidize energy purchases by the state's two major utility companiesSouthern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).
            Recently the governor announced that some long-term contracts have been negotiated in the $70-80 per megawatt range."

            The state spending $45 million a day hardly seems like DEregulation to me.

            What they call "deregulation" of the power industry in California was actually a change in regulations, not the elimination of regulations. For instance, Wikipedia [] says:

            "The California energy market allowed for energy companies to charge higher prices for electricity produced out-of-state"

            "the Death Star group of scams played on the market rules which required the state to pay "congestion fees" to alleviate congestion on major power lines"

            "in 2000, wholesale prices were deregulated, but retail prices were regulated for the incumbents as part of a deal with the regulator, allowing the incumbent utilities to recover the cost of assets that would be stranded as a result of greater competition, based on the expectation that "frozen" rates would remain higher than wholesale prices".

            "By keeping the consumer price of electricity artificially low, the California government discouraged citizens from practicing conservation. In February 2001, California governor Gray Davis stated, "Believe me, if I wanted to raise rates I could have solved this problem in 20 minutes."

            That's over-regulation, not deregulation. Deregulation would be letting anyone produce, transmit, and sell electricity at any price the consumers would pay.

          • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:45AM (#34364810)
            You are incorrect.

            Here is the scenario in a nut-shell. California began full-on price fixing because they decided energy prices were too high, causing a long term shortage of supply (nobody wanted to build new power plants in california, nor sell power at below market prices to california's distributors.)

            In response to this shortage, they deregulated energy production in the hopes that this would spur more in-state production, which it did. The problem was that they continued to price-fix the distributors, so the old and new in-state energy producers sold to out-of-state markets first..

            The shortages grew worse and worse because of this. The in-state distributors, forced to buy at market prices but sell at lower fixed prices, began losing money hand-over-fist. The state then responded by heavily subsidizing the distributors through taxes but even that wasnt enough to save some of the them from bankruptcy.

            This is the same old "manage from the top" good-intentions failure we often see.
            • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

              by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @01:16PM (#34365476) Homepage

              Funny how you leave out the biggest piece of this: Enron. The deregulation allowed Enron to manipulate power supplies and prices. So your "scenario in a nut-shell" is using a nut that selectively includes in its narrative only the government as a player, despite that private industry was as much or more at the center of the story as government practices, that the private industry was in large extent crooked, and that deregulation on the government's side was essential to the run-away crookedness on the private industries' side which resulted in, for example, brownouts when totally operational power plants were turned off in order to raise the spot-market prices from the electrical generators which were still on line - putting billions into Enron's pockets, as well as into the pockets of several of it peers.

              • The deregulation allowed Enron to manipulate power supplies and prices

                Excuse me, but that's REgulation, not DEregulation. True deregulation wouldn't allow anyone to manipulate power supplies and prices, that would have been left to the market.

                Cheating is intrinsic to regulation, the only scenario with no cheating is the one where there are no rules.

                What the leftist politicians do not understand is that regulation NEVER works to protect the common people. Big corporations have big teams of lawyers working full time to find gaps in the regulation. They do not need to break the

              • The reason they deregulated was that in 1996, the state tax payers had to bail out the energy companies to the tune of 27 billion dollars.

                The entire problem started with price fixing, and the "deregulation" as they called it, didn't do anything to solve that problem.

                Enron was just the final symptom of the problem, and certainly does not bare the responsibility for it. The "good intentions" of the legislature are what fucked California over, not Enron.

                You want a villain. Its not Enron. Its the Californ
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by superdude72 ( 322167 )

        Lack of supply caused when energy traders figured out--in the badly deregulated market--that they could take plants offline for "repairs" at strategic moments and cause the price to spike by 1000 percent.

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

      by ptomblin ( 1378 ) <> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:39AM (#34364060) Homepage Journal

      You mean Enron?

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      All at once? Wonder what that'll cost?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mantis2009 ( 1557343 )

      Whatever happened to the new power grid that President Bush promised before and again after the great American blackout of 2003? [],2933,94872,00.html []

    • My house has a single phase, 100kW maximum supply, this is pretty normal in the UK. 12kW is nothing — my electric shower is 11kW, immersion heater is similar power too. People tend to have their heating and have a shower at the same time every morning, perhaps electric kettles, electric grills and some have electric heating, so the grid can most certainly cope here.

      I'm unsure if 100kW could be sustained for each home in the neighbourhood at one time, but cars sucking up 16kW (or even 32kW if they had

      • Re:Good! (Score:4, Informative)

        by petermgreen ( 876956 ) <plugwash @ p> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:30AM (#34364346) Homepage

        My house has a single phase, 100kW maximum supply, this is pretty normal in the UK.
        No it isn't, I think you are confusing amps with kilowatts. Typical in the UK is about 60A-100A single phase which at 240V works out to 14-24KW

        100KW would be about 400A single phase or 138A three phase.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          What I meant to say is the supply in to the house could cope with 100kW.

          Just had some asbestos removed, and the ventilation system was using 50kW (5 x 10kW fan units). We had a 400A supply breaker installed by the electric board, it was 125A before that.

          We thought at first we may have required a new supply, as we were told the fans were 90.9A each at 240V, but they were 110V. This is where I found out the 100kW was our maximum when speaking to our electric supplier. They wouldn't have been able to supply mo

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by hawguy ( 1600213 )

            The UK power distribution network works differently than in the USA.

            In the UK, they tend to use large (up to ~1MW) substations that power a large number of houses (they can do this because the higher household voltage leads to less distribution power loss). In the USA, they use smaller pole mounted transformers (~16KVA- 100KVA) that serve a few houses. A few neighbors with high capacity charge stations can exceed the capacity of the transformer.

            Another benefit of the UK model is that smart charging stations

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tomhudson ( 43916 )

          Actually 200 amp (and even 400 amp) 240v entries became features in plenty of new houses in Quebec when power rates were so low that electric heating (even heating an outdoor pool in the winter) was the cheapest way to go.

          Nobody bothered putting in "just" 100 amp entries unless they were aiming for the lowest price point.

    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:01AM (#34364528) Journal

      I love the humor of an industry worrying about having to actually invest in, you know, itself.

      This is actually another fearmongering, just like RIAA, VHS, etc all over again.

      I expect in a year or two they're going to make comments like "charging your car can place hospitals at risk!" etc etc.

  • Worried? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:19AM (#34363938) Journal
    Worried? Build more capacity then. It's not like your customers have been or will be getting all that electricity for free (or even cheap in some cases).
  • by Leebert ( 1694 ) * on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:21AM (#34363942)

    The problem is that transformers that distribute power from the electrical grid to homes are often designed to handle less than about 12,000 watts

    often designed to handle 12,000 watts? Hogwash. That's 50 amp service (in North America, where homes are almost always supplied at 240VAC). Most new homes in North America receives at minimum 200 amp service. Even my rural 1956 rancher has 70 amp service.

    And this is a single home. Most transformers supply several houses. If there are any transformers rated at 12KW, they are very few and far between, and probably service locations that aren't likely to have electric cars anyhow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      If you can plug it in and the fuse does not melt, your fine.
      Whats the difference between your car sucking power hour after hour and your air conditioner along with many other devices running all summer/winter?
      Where the US power industry faces some issues is sales/trades of limited gas and other input fuels. The regional/state "needs" of "expensive" gas at a set time vs another states ability to offer gas shareholders more profit :)
      No power for you or your car or air conditioner until your utility can pay
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by serutan ( 259622 )

        Whats the difference between your car sucking power hour after hour and your air conditioner along with many other devices running all summer/winter?

        There's no difference. The problem is adding electric car chargers on top of all that other stuff that's already running.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Many electric companies are pushing smart grid devices to do load leveling right now. This summer I had a visit from my power company where they wanted permission to install a device that would participate in a rolling shutoff of air conditioners. Since I don't trust these guys I refused. I think it's just a strategy to avoid having to invest in improving their infrastructure. Now reading this I'm glad I did. They are going to have to deal with their crappy infrastructure anyway.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TheLink ( 130905 )
          Yeah, maybe instead of the Fed Reserve printing trillions of dollars and handing them over to "sorry we can't tell you", they should have printed trillions to actually fix/build stuff - roads, power stations, power distribution, broadband etc. Can't outsource all of these jobs to India and Mexico too.

          Maybe that'll cause inflation, but heck at least you all will get something out of it. Rather than just making a few rich people richer and still getting inflation.
    • by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:43AM (#34364088) Homepage

      I agree. I can see how distribution before you reach the home might be taxed, since while most new homes get 200 amp service I doubt the infrastructure is designed for every home to pull all 200 amps at the same time.

      Also, consider that most charging is likely to take place at night. That will have a huge leveling effect on the grid. Rather than going into panic mode the electric utilities should just work with auto-makers to build timers into their chargers (maybe give the car a charge up to 25-50% if it is really low right away, and then defer the rest of the charge until the middle of the night, or have a switch to select the charging mode). They should also educate electric car owners on rate plans that charge less for power consumed at night.

      • Most of the electric cars have smart charges that talk to the grid to know when it is best to charge. You plug it in, and it wont start charging until the network is at lower demand. Car manufacturers have thought of this already.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by shentino ( 1139071 )

        So they oversell electric capacity just like they oversell bandwidth?

        Sounds like we could use the same solution right?

        • So they oversell electric capacity just like they oversell bandwidth?

          Yes. Someone long ago [] found that it's not really necessary to have capacity to handle all possible requests at once, because not everybody uses the system at once [].

          That's why you and everybody else is able to afford to have a telephone. You would be surprised to find how much it costs [] to have available at all times the maximum capacity you bought.

          When the statistics of the system change, you need new formulas to calculate both the needed capacity and the prices the service will cost. This will happen with th

    • Could it be same situation as broadband suppliers? they sell more capacity to a group than they actually have under the belief that none of the houses will try to use all of it at the same time.

      i.e. Each house is wired for 200amps, but the local transformer can only supply an average of 50 amps to each house it connects to?

    • no it is a maximum of a 200 amp service. And in reality you don't get all that either.

      Most utilities to save a few bucks wire up that 200amp house with wire that is good for 160amps Which is fine because the average house doesn't need 200 amp service. The largest 3 power draws have been stove, dryer, and air conditioner. Electric heat while available isn't normally affordable in the northern states. So your 200 amp house rarely draws above a 100amp service.

      Because utilities are cheap and they know how

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        And now for something intelligent because your a moron.

        his a moron what?

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        As I did the math once on a 12 volt transformer. a 1000 watt 12 volt transformer only draws 100 watts at 120 volts( a little more due to inefficiencies actually) However you can light one room with a single 100 watt lightbulb , or you can light several at 12 volts. It isn't done often as it isn't convenient and introduces more points of failure.

        I think you are confusing amps with watts, and don't know what I2R losses are w/ regards to 12 volt distribution.

        I'm also mystified about the 12KW xfrmr quote from the summary. Rather than powering a neighborhood, thats only about 50 amps of 220 service so I should easily be able to blow it out with just my clothes dryer and central air, yet myself and all my neighbors run those all summer long.

      • by qubezz ( 520511 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:52AM (#34364480)
        Fact, pun, grammar, punctuation, logic, and math fail... Kudos, sir, you clearly told that kettle his color!
  • I have 100 amp service. That means I can use 22000 watts, more than enough. Right now, I'm using 3 1500 watt heaters in my house, for a total of 4,500 watts.

    Some of my neighbors have 200 amp service. The utility company is not going to put a 12000 watt transformer up to any of our houses...

    • I recently upgraded my electrical service because the exiting box had reliability issues. The electrician recommended that I go to 200A. Glad I did; I have multiple cars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tgd ( 2822 )

      And you actually think the service into a neighborhood can take everyone drawing 200 amps?

      Not even remotely close.

      Hell, the generation capacity for most power companies is carefully managed to meet the expected peak demand of the customers they have, at a specific rate of typical peak usage.

      Increase that by ten percent, and you'll get rolling brownouts or blackouts during the summer when people are running their A/C.

      The US has a 3rd world power infrastructure that is cobbled together to work in exactly the

  • Zoning regulations already prohibit heavy industry in residential areas -- this prevents excess stress on local roads, power supplies, water supplies, sewage systems, etc. Seems to me that car chargers shouldn't be approved for residential use unless the power grid can handle them, for the same reason you wouldn't build an aluminum factory in a neighborhood.

  • And? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ledow ( 319597 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:32AM (#34364018) Homepage

    Shoulda thought of that several years ago when you started pushing electric cars, and I would blame the car manufacturers and electric stations equally - if you have 100amps into the house, you should be able to pull 100 amps. If you don't, then you need to contact the electricity company who are then suitably forewarned. Also, the car companies never mention just how much power a car pulls (but yet we're told to worry about 40W bulbs being on for five minutes more than usual!) or that it might need specialised equipment to charge.

    I worked in an inner-city school a few years back. We blew the street fuse by plugging in a laptop trolley with 16 90W adaptors. Did we blame the laptop manufacturer's? The school electrician? No, we blamed the electricity company for being so stupid that the *specified* maximum current available for our site was nowhere near what blew the street fuse for the ENTIRE street.

    Sort it out, like you should have always have sorted it out. And charge people more if they place a burden on your system and make them get specialised lines that cost more. Problem solved (and it'll also keep electric cars in the bin where they should be - what we *really* need from an ecological point of view is a lithium shortage right now).

    • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:20AM (#34364290)

      "and it'll also keep electric cars in the bin where they should be - what we *really* need from an ecological point of view is a lithium shortage right now"

      WTF? There's NO shortage of lithium whatsoever. Absolutely NONE.

      You can mine it indefinitely from seawater for about $70 per kg. Ecological footprint of lithium mining is also trivial - it's mined from salt planes which are not known for their rich ecology.

  • I hope it overheats and turns itself off in a controlled way.

  • by damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:35AM (#34364038) Homepage Journal
    ... And apparently we are again not ready for it. Electric cars were common decades ago, and the electric service did not collapse. Now we have two large auto manufacturers debuting cars that can be charged at home - even though few people will be able to afford the entire setup right now - and for some reason the power companies are proclaiming that the sky is falling. Hell the power companies have a solid business model right now, as few people are in a position to maintain their lifestyles without the electricity they currently pay for. So the problem for the electric companies then is what, again?
    • by b4upoo ( 166390 )

      It tells me that the cost of operating an electric car will be way too high. If it takes that much power to charge these cars the power companies will get even richer.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rolfwind ( 528248 )

      I push for this often, but I seriously don't know why the car companies go after the diesel electric model trains use [] (not to be confused with hybrid where the engine isn't solely there to make electricity but has the added complexity of being coupled to the driveshaft along with the electrical motor). There would be no range issues nor would it stress the electric grid, nor require a ton of costly batteries that will age and need replacing. The savings in gasoline will come from the fact that it will hav

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by robot256 ( 1635039 )

        I'll give you some reasons.

        (1) Railway locomotives don't use electric transmissions because they're efficient. They use them because it is physically impossible (or at least impractical) to build a 44,000 hp mechanical transmission into a moving vehicle.

        (2) Until recently the size, cost and efficiency of electric transmissions (including motors, generators, and control electronics) have made it impractical to include all of them plus a gas engine in vehicles much smaller than railway locomotives.


  • What's needed to be done is installing power generation (preferably runs on top of #97 gasoline) for extra electricity!

    Now the equation is balanced, isn't it?

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:51AM (#34364132) Homepage

    Assuming the cars charge with 220v, this represents 15 amperes, 30 amperes and around 75 amperes. Most houses will have a 15 amp circuit available - probably you have some appliance plugged into it. Not all that many will have an extra 30 amp circuit, and none have a 75 amp circuit anywhere.

    As far as the worries of the power companies: if the greens were serious, they would get behind this. Of course, if you want to reduce our usage of oil, we do need a few new power plants. Nuclear would be best, but even if you try to go full-on green, the eco-nuts will [] oppose [] them [] all []. Don't bother asking what they would support - most of them apparently think that power magically comes out of the wall-socket, with no need for nasty things like power plants...

    • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:58AM (#34364178)
      The greens are starting to waver in their opposition to nuclear now, regarding it as the least-evil option for base load. But it is a slow change, as many of them grew up in the era of nuclear fear.
    • most of them ["the greens"] apparently think that power magically comes out of the wall-socket, with no need for nasty things like power plants.

      Not most. Not by a long shot I'm sure. Just the loudest nuttiest ones who make the news.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 )

      My Roadster has it's own 100Amp circuit, but that's because it draws almost 7000 watts when charging. I had to have my home's 100Amp service entrance upgraded (to 300amps), and new conduit/copper run to the garage to handle it.

  • Though some want to think this is not so but the fact is, we know how to do extremely low cost (often referred to as free energy) energy production.

    This is technology that has been suppressed, which we all know really does happen.

    A musician friend of mine noticed how a spring reverb sounds different depending on location. Altitude perhaps but also locations, Canada, Florida, west coast, etc.

    So he started messing around with the magnets but not your typical magnets. I forget what type of magnet he called the

    • They don't work. Yours is yet another story where some friend of a friend did something and wow - it ran all by itself without any energy input.

      There is no such thing as "free energy". You need to explain why the laws of thermodynamics should all be violated. Let us know when you can do that.
  • by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @09:59AM (#34364184) Homepage Journal

    ...all of these electric cars will probably be pulling as much or more power than even a big bank of grow lights.

    I'm sure that people have already started figuring out ways to shape their energy usage to make it look like they have a new electric car at home, instead of... a shed full of lush, green plants!

  • That's all this is. The electric company powers that be guessed no one would buy electric cars, so why spend the money to upgrade infrastructure. Oops. Time to go explain to the shareholders that you have to spend of money instead of handing out dividends.

    The shareholders and the board can fix this by firing the managers, and the next bunch won't make the same mistake.

    Problem solved!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zobeid ( 314469 )

      What mistake? Would it have made more sense to go around randomly upgrading neighborhoods years ago when it wasn't yet clear that electric cars were going to reach the market in any significant numbers??

  • by jamesl ( 106902 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:11AM (#34364244)

    Most charging will be done at night, when electricity use (home and business) is otherwise low.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DerekLyons ( 302214 )

      Most charging will be done at night, when electricity use (home and business) is otherwise low.

      And when the demand is low, plants are shut down (extending their service life and reducing the amount of maintenance required). If demand goes up, then service life is expended faster and more in depth and frequent maintenance is required.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jamesl ( 106902 )

        Wear and tear is a variable cost. Charging an electric car is added revenue. If the added revenue isn't greater than the variable cost (wear and tear plus fuel more or less) then the electric company indeed has a big problem.

        Variable time-of-day pricing relies on shifting loads (running the drier, the washer, the dishwasher as well as commercial users) from day to night to use generators that would otherwise be shut down.

  • by Lilith's Heart-shape ( 1224784 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:12AM (#34364248) Homepage
    They had plenty of time to invest their profits into upgrading the power grid to anticipate future demand, and didn't. Those short-sighted sons of syphilitic bitches can go fuck themselves with a Saturn V rocket and no lube.
    • by Aquitaine ( 102097 ) <sam.iamsam@org> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:52AM (#34364868) Homepage

      Yeah, because all you need to build a new power plant is some money. Oh wait, except that it's one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, particularly in California, and that you're asking investors to wait a very, very long time for a return on their investment.

      This nonsense about 'California power companies pocketed all their profits when they should've been building plants' is not even very imaginative leftist fantasy. California has had a huge demand for electricity for years now. In any normal market, that would equalize with supply over time, but California suffers from a paralyzing combination of regulatory bodies and NIMBY. There is a post above this one that explains how even the supposed 'de-regulation' of the California energy market a while back was in fact just a re-regulation (in that wholesale prices were deregulated but retail prices were not). But don't let that get in the way of your populist righteousness.

  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:14AM (#34364256)
    You can't go by what things are breakered at - that's the maximum the circuits can safely draw. The circuits aren't meant to draw more than 1/2 to 2/3 of that value. Speculation, but I doubt that the electrical service in a neighborhood is designed anywhere close to having all the loads draw their breakered values.

    It doesn't surprise me at all that electric companies oversubscribe their service and count on individual homes pulling relatively low loads. It makes sense - that is what causes brownouts and the need for electric companies to drop neighborhoods out so they can keep from overstressing transmission lines and such. If electric companies didn't oversubscribe their service there would not be brownouts.

    It's high load in the residential areas that will make it important for people to supplement the grid with local power generation with things like solar panels. The problem there is that the electric vehicles will generally be somewhere else during the day. The efficiency isn't completely lost, though, and solar panels in a neighborhood are generally much closer to the local industrial loads than the power plants.

    But this is going to be the kicker to help get people to put up panels. It will be distributed power generation and will help the grid deal with the much higher loads that electric vehicles will impose.
    • It will be important to have businesses install charging stations so local power generated during the day can be used to charge the vehicles while the power is available. Solar panels won't help the situation much if people only plug in at night.

      Also look for home generators to start getting more popular. In Europe, a lot of homes have them and they aren't for emergency backup. They use the waste heat for heating homes and water and the electricity to power the home. By using more of the available energy
  • by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:29AM (#34364342) Journal
    I've already started converting my house to run on gasoline, thus leaving enough electricity for charging my car.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by EnsilZah ( 575600 )

      Ha, sucker, my house is a hybrid, you wouldn't believe how much electricity you can generate from regenerative breaking of continental drift.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @10:35AM (#34364376)

    The power industry needs to pay attention to what ISPs are doing to solve similar problems.

    1.) Spend upgrade money on creating new classes of service, rather than worrying about upgrading low profit transformers. The electricity for your lights, which you need right away, should be tagged differently than the electricity for your car, which can wait for delivery. Then, make more money by charging extra for uninterrupted "light electricity."

    2.) Spend more money investigating people's power usage, and threatening to shut off everyone who uses an electric car. (The power companies do this already looking for marijuana grow-lights, so this should be cheap to implement.) Couple these "deep power inspection" with blockage measures so that electric cars only get a trickle charge. Cap people's usage so that the power to the "bad actors" gets shutoff when they exceed their cap.

    3.) Implement a propaganda campaign castigating electric car users for actually using the electricity that they paid for.

    4.) Demand public subsidies to upgrade the power system, and use the resulting money on items # 1 - 3 above.

    With these simple measures, both our power system and our broadband Internet delivery can continue to slide to third-world status, and useful employment can be extended to armies of consultants.

  • by ThreeGigs ( 239452 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:04AM (#34364542)

    I've read a lot about electric cars and _electric_ infrastructure, generating capacity, etc. However, I haven't seen a single article addressing the loss of taxes from gasoline. Gas taxes pay for road maintenance. Heck, there were stories awhile back about people who were using biodiesel or waste fryer oil in their cars who had to get some special license or permit to cover the taxes they weren't paying. It's why red diesel fuel is so cheap... only farmers who don't drive on roads can use it.

    So... where will the revenue come from after hundreds of thousands of people switch to electric cars or plug-in hybrids? Will there be a tax on electricity? Special metering for rechargers? A general flat-tax added to all electricity prices?

  • by 517714 ( 762276 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @11:07AM (#34364562)
    We have excuses for why your electricity bill will be higher next year, new ways to manipulate the stock prices of utility companies, and more reasons why we won't be going green this year. Coming up at 10:00.
  • by dabblah ( 18703 ) on Sunday November 28, 2010 @12:02PM (#34364918) Homepage

    The real problem is that utility executives are lemmings that all want to run off the same cliff at the same time. SCE happens to think they are the leader in providing to the electric car industry, and they have been keeping their heads down in the California battles lately. PG&E has had several messes on their hands between that proposition in June and San Ramon, and since CA is likely to lead in adoption, it is a CA utility that the rest of the industry will look to and so SCE gets it by default.

    SCE has been wringing their hands for years and posturing themselves to the electric car and plug in hybrid as an excuse to demand distribution rate increases that they haven't been able to get for years. That is what the other utility executives see. They see hand-wringing that can posture for distribution rate increases that they haven't been able to get through their utility commissions for years due to opposition to increasing rates. Utility rates are worse than even the usual political sausage factory. Maybe the consumer groups and enviros will go for the rate increases if packaged with the plug in car. That is the whole reason for all the utility company angst. It is manufactured for the theater of public, and public utility commission, opinion.

    The manufactured angst is their current cliff, just like downsizing was in the 90's.

    In their defense, maybe they are right. Maybe they really haven't had the money in the distribution accounts to pay for upgrades. I know more than 99.995% of the people out there about power rates in general, but that still leaves at least the 1000 or so people spread throughout the IOUs that actually understand their own individual rates and how they affect their accounts down to the GL. You would go insane if you actually tried to understand that from the outside rather than just understand how it affects your house or facility.

    To a couple of other points.

    1) The power distribution, and transmission, equipment installed thirty to sixty years ago was so preposterously overengineered at the time that it is still cranking along nicely. In the words of my primary high voltage expert "a cool transformer is a happy transformer". By and large they can sit there well past the apex of the failure curve and keep going indefinitely. The stuff that is in the air and on the ground is by and large fine until it fails, and easy to replace when it does. All of the handwringing about the smart grid is also largely a bunch of BS. The grid is a lot smarter than you would know from the outside. The problem is and was broken regulation. The way utilities used to make money was they built new generation to serve new load. Transmission only existed to get the hostage generation to the hostage load. The transmission system was not previously regulated in such a way that would lead to what America has needed for years, which is the super-highway concept of high voltage lines that would allow markets to properly function. It really isn't even regulated properly now.

    2) Continuing the theme, deregulation was not the problem in California. A deregulated electricity market looks nothing like a deregulated market for most other commodities. A deregulated market for electricity exists in multiple and overlapping frameworks of regulation. The problem in CA was the regulated model they selected for their deregulated market. They took the mostly functional British model and applied it to California. What they did not understand was that in Britain there was a) a massive oversupply and b) a utility industry that was so broken that the utilities had a built in ability for utilities to do things like "install meters" and make money. Since California is in a net import situation, and had meters, the market conditions had nothing to do with their model. The proximate cause of the so called "energy crisis" also was actually physical. It was the explosion on the El Paso pipeline in 2000 that jacked up prices and limited supply in CA even ahead of the general massive NG spike. Those two fact

  • by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `eromsnidm'> on Sunday November 28, 2010 @03:46PM (#34366888) Homepage Journal

    The power companies are clearly complaining about this now, because they're angling to have the Gov't step in and pay for their infrastructure upgrades. So they can "meet the needs of the new green economy, etc". Whatever, but it'll probably work. The power utilities are probably the only industry that can get away with charging the customer for the ability to sell the customer more product--most other industries require that the producer build infrastructure on spec, and then recoup that cost through sales. You think that when the Gov't does pay for this infrastructure upgrade, it will be restricted to green consumers? No. The utilities will be happy to take that payday and turn around and sell the power delivery to anyone, including polluters, and bitch about Gov't regulation of a private industry, when the Gov't attempts to legislate the delivery back to the original intent--the reason they paid for the infrastructure upgrade in the first place.

    Anyways, I digress. Part of the problem of "green" energy production is that two of the favorite methods of generation, wind and solar, do not provide "base load"--neither provide for power generation all of the time, which is a problem since a consumer could want to use power all of the time. Well, one way to "flatten" out the delivery of that power is by storing the power when it's being generated, and pulling out of the storage when it's needed and the wind isn't blowing. Batteries are one form of storage.

    What we have here is a group of consumers willing to purchase the most expensive part of the storage system--the battery. If the utilities were smart, they'd take advantage of this volunteerism. Perhaps by simply only charging these batteries only when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining; if it takes 8 hrs to charge, but I have it plugged in for 12 hours a day, a smart sensor would opportunistically charge for those first 4 hours. If the wind is blowing during that time, fantastic. If it's not, then when it gets down to the 8 hr min charge time it starts pulling from any available resource. Or, even more aggressively, those car batteries could provide charge back to the grid during periods of unuse. They'd be opportunistically charged until full, and then provide power back to the grid when the wind stops blowing and there are other customers with demand.

    The second strategy is a lot less likely to happen, at least at first. Consumers aren't going to be too happy to have a variable amount of available power in their cars at any given moment that they might want to go down to their movie rental store, so it might require some tight time zoning, etc. But I think the first is practical and reasonable--EV car owners would be a receptive demographic to agree to have their car charged only by alternative energy sources, even if that means that it might take a little longer and be a little more unpredictable, within reasonable standards. If the wind blows, on average, 30% of the time, I would be willing to wait around for the 5 hours of wind power out of the average 14 hours that I would have it plugged in.

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson