California needs to charge electric vehicles during day, not night, to save grid, study says
California may be the first state to require electric vehicles to be charged on a day when electricity is cheap enough to justify driving an electric car instead of plugging into a wall.
California’s state senate has already considered legislation that would allow owners of electric vehicles to charge them from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. instead of plugging them in at night. The bill has a bipartisan co-sponsor, state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose.
But Beall’s bill does not specify when and where electric vehicle owners would be legally allowed to charge their vehicles — it is silent on that issue.
The lack of a state law on charging rules is a problem because there could be circumstances when the cheapest electricity isn’t available after sunset, such as in winter or during power outages.
“If you really want to help get a lot of people off the grid, you have to have charging options,” said Daniel Hays, executive director of The Utility Reform Network, a free market think tank in Washington, D.C.
The utility market is heavily regulated, and state-regulated utilities have to be fairly competitive.
The Energy Information Administration in 2015 estimated the cost to install and operate charging stations across the U.S. at about $75 million. By charging at night instead, the cost could come down to $10 million or less, Hays said.
The Public Utility Commission in 2015 considered a proposal to add electric vehicle charging stations across the state, but the proposal never made it out of the commission’s review.
The state could also be able to charge electric vehicles during peak energy demand periods, which is when electric cars would typically be needed the most. Hays said the state has the opportunity to reduce electricity demand through conservation.
“Our grid is very, very efficient,” Hays said.
California has had a statewide standard for charging electric vehicles since 2008. The charging stations would also be able to allow the state to charge electric cars on a grid that is already under strain from heat and