San Francisco to Require New Buildings Be Wired for Electric Vehicle Charging

Posted on February 18, 2010

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From the U.K. Guardian:

San Francisco has adopted building codes requiring all new homes and offices to be wired for electric car chargers, in an attempt to position itself as America’s green car capital.

The move comes in advance of the release this year of the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt, which promise to deliver driving distances of 40 miles or more on a single battery charge and are being marketed to middle-class families.

In an effort, once again, to show the rest of the country how “green” they are, San Francisco is going to require all new home and office buildings be wired for electric car chargers.  With California buying in to every “environmentally friendly” scheme ever floated, electric cars are just the most recent trend, seen as better than your gas guzzler, since they do not emit those awful greenhouse gases (at least not at the tailpipe).  Even as the man-made global warming hype is coming under intense scrutiny,  it will not deter those dedicated to the green movement.  In fact, there will be a “green financing program” if you want to install one of these chargers in your existing home. 

What is amazing, as the article reports, is that there are concerns of black-outs if too many of these cars are plugged in for charging at the same time.  Yes, black outs are a concern.  In an effort to rush in and embrace electric vehicles, no one seems to have answered the question, “Where is the additional electricity is going to come from to charge these cars?”   If  just 1,000 vehicles in California can cause concern of black outs, what about millions of vehicles across the country, as President Obama wants?  Electricity “doesn’t grow on trees,” and it doesn’t  just magically appear from the outlet in your wall.

If more electricity must be generated in order to charge these cars, demand will go up, which means prices will go up as well. Which leads to another question.  If you cruise in to work  and plug in your car at the office, who is going to pay for the electricity you are using?  You?  Your company?  The city? And will you even be allowed to charge your vehicle during the day?  Maybe not (from the article):

“I have talked to energy executives who are very fearful about what will happen even if you get past 1,000 vehicles,” said Terry Tamminen, who advises California’s governor, Arnold ­Schwarzenegger, on energy and environment. “People can’t be trusted to charge only at night and discharge in the day.” (emphasis mine)

So let’s sum up:

  • In purchasing one of these new electric cars, I’ll be able to go a whopping 40 miles per charge and only be able to charge at night. 
  • If everyone is charging at the same time, there may be black outs.
  • Electric vehicles will create a larger demand for electricity, which will cause prices to rise. 
  • There are currently no easy charge up stations where you can pull in, charge up in a few minutes, and be back on the road again.

Oh, the price to be paid for being on the leading edge of green.