October 27, 2020
How Can I Flee Wildfires in My EV When There’s No Electricity?
Today's PolicyByte was written by Dr. Merrill Matthews, resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation.
You can’t make this stuff up!
Last month California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order “requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035 and additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector.”
Just one month later California’s Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced it would be cutting electric power to about 1 million of the state’s residents in an effort to reduce the risk of downed powerlines starting even more wildfires.
“It’s the fifth time this year that Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation’s largest utility, has cut power to customers in a bid to reduce the risk that downed or fouled power lines or other equipment could ignite a blaze during bone-dry weather conditions and gusty winds. On Sunday [Oct. 25], the utility shut off power to 225,000 customers in Northern California and later did the same for another 136,000 customers in a total of 36 counties,” according to ABC News.
Notice this was the fifth time that PG&E has left Californians in the dark.
The stories that emerge from these fast-spreading wildfires can be harrowing, not to mention tragic. First responders come banging on the door telling the residents they must get out quickly—with little or no time to pack up valuables or treasured keepsakes.
But at least most of the residents can jump in their gas-powered car or truck, start it up and go immediately. Even if the gas tank is low, putting in a couple of gallons is easy and takes almost no time.
But what if the utility has cut off your electricity and, in the year 2035, all you have is an electric-powered vehicle, as per Governor Newsom’s recent executive order.
How do you escape the coming inferno?
Even if you have a gas-powered generator that can supply electricity—which apparently a lot of Californians do since blackouts aren’t rare—it could still take a while for the EV to charge up.
It’s one thing to want to see the country transition away from gas-powered cars and trucks to EVs.
But it’s quite another thing to force that on the public when the powers-that-be can’t provide the power they need so at least the fleeing residents can drive their EV to safety.