HOUSTON - President Joe Biden has signed an executive order aimed at making 50% of all new vehicles 'electric' by 2030. And while the new technology may be nice, and kinder to the environment, it may also put a lot of extra pressure on the electric grid.
After February's Big Freeze, where millions of Texans were plunged into darkness, that kind of pressure is the last thing we need. Still, more electric vehicles are coming.
General Motors, for one, has pledged to convert to an all-electric fleet by 2035. That's a lot of people plugging their cars into the wall.
Yekini Tidjani is one of them. He's had his Tesla for several months, driving between a job in San Antonio and his home in Houston. So far, keeping the car charged for all those miles has not been a problem.
"For a full-charge, at home, it's usually somewhere close to $3 dollars," he says, "To supercharge, it's somewhere between $8-10 dollars.
It's not a problem if Tidjani is the only one on his block charging a car. fast forward to a future where everyone on the block is charging, and there could be problems delivering all that electricity through lines that, currently, are not designed for such a load.
Houston Columnist and businessman Bill King, who's been critical of the state's electric-grid oversight, says there's a lot of work ahead if the country is going to transition to electric vehicles.
"There's no question, we've got to spend some money on the electrical grid, both on the transmission and the generation side of it," says King, "We're underresourced on both of those."
Activists for electric vehicles are not worried. Kevin Douglass, with the Houston Electric Auto Association, says much like Houston adopted the power demands of ‘air conditioning in the 1950s, the power grid will meet this challenge, too.
"The utilities are incentivized by making sure they can sell you electricity because that's how they make their money," says Douglass, "They will improve, and they will increase the infrastructure to do that."
There's still a lot of work between words and action. Infrastructure legislation, in Washington, could and should help with ramping up power generation and transmission improvements. There must, also, be the 'will' to do the work.
Unfortunately, one researcher studying the issue laments that we are very good at waiting until there's trouble before doing the things that need to be done.