Power cuts due to heatwave in California threaten electric vehicles, again

  • Two successive nights of power outage - on Friday and Saturday night - have already disrupted daily lives in California to some extent.
File photo used for representational purpose.
File photo used for representational purpose.

California is often considered the American capital of electric vehicles but the state's vulnerability to power outage also makes the same electric vehicles susceptible to being driven to a halt. Wildfires and heatwaves have often forced electricity-providing companies to shut off supply as precautionary measures which make such vehicles the inadvertent casualty. With a fresh round of power cut looming here due to a heatwave, EV owners are once again treading a careful path.

Two successive nights of power outage - on Friday and Saturday night - have already disrupted daily lives to some extent. Bloomberg reports that the California Independent System Operator has warned it may not have adequate supplies over the next few days to meet the anticipated crush of demand for electricity to power air conditioners and fans. What does that really mean for EVs then? No electricity, no vehicle?

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This is hardly the first time that EV owners in California have had to additionally deal with the question of powering their cars and keeping these ready in the face of outage. As recently as in November of 2019, massive power outage reportedly left many EV owners stranded at their homes without the option of taking their cars out. Tesla, the undisputed champion of electric cars, had alerted its customers to keep their vehicles juiced up whenever possible.

Critics point this out as one of the biggest flaws of EVs but supporters maintain that the rare emergency situation pales in the face of the abundant advantages of using an EV. Some also say that this is why portable power sets and/or batteries that can be swapped are crucial.

Then there are few who reportedly used EV batteries to power some low-voltage devices inside their homes. While it is not ascertained if this is completely safe to do, they swore by their ingenuity.

The debate may rage on for some time now and rear up again each time power outage threaten to loom dark. The fate of EVs during prolonged power cuts, therefore, remains mired in uncertainity.

First Published Date: 17 Aug 2020, 10:45 AM IST
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