Dori: Losing control? Brownouts, blackouts, electric vehicle mandates, and keeping cool

Sep 1, 2022, 5:56 PM

A Tesla charging station on Friday, March 11, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Image...

A Tesla charging station on Friday, March 11, 2022. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Do you like your car? And the settings on your thermostat?

Enjoy them now, because if trends in California, Texas, and Colorado are any indication, Washingtonians may be losing personal control over their transportation and even home-climate choices.

Just this week, California officials announced through the state’s “flex alert” system that the power grid is not able to handle powering up chargers for electric vehicles. In fact, there are serious concerns that a current heat wave in that state could cause brownouts and blackouts for communities with heavy-use appliances – including refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners.

Electricity users in Texas are facing similar warnings. Officials there are telling electric vehicle owners not to plug in their cars because the state is facing brownouts and blackouts.

Why does any of this matter? Because California just announced that by 2035 – 13 years from now – the state will switch to all electric vehicles.

And Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted Wednesday that our state will also prohibit sales of new gas-powered vehicles by that same year. Washington is “ready to adopt California’s regs by the end of this year,” Inslee said on Twitter.

But what about the potential fallout?

What if, in the Puget Sound region following widespread winter storms, there is a massive power outage – and we’re at the mercy of the government for basic transportation?

And, what if, you don’t have a garage because you live in a condo or an apartment, and your building doesn’t have a charging station in the garage? Is your charging station going to be on the sidewalk? Who is going to pay for that?

And how long until the meth and heroin addicts decide to rip apart those sidewalk charging stations to steal whatever metal is in it so they can get their next drug fix?

The challenges aren’t just for urban dwellers. What about homeowners who don’t have the types of electric panels that can rapidly charge an electric vehicle – and manage the home’s basic appliances? And what if the family has more than one EV?

The No. 1 problem with the California and Washington visions? Our power grid is not ready to handle this. In fact, lawmakers are seriously considering eliminating dams in our state – the same sites that generate affordable hydroelectric power that runs many of our homes and communities.

Will we rely on solar power? Good luck with that. Our own U.S. Department of Energy calls Washington state the 48th worst place in the country for solar power. Cloudy months can do that to Western Washington.

But don’t worry. Even if you can’t drive your state-mandated EV, you can stay put in the climate comfort of your own home, right? That is, unless you’re in Denver – where tens of thousands of utility users “volunteered” to save $25 a year to get a “smart thermostat.”

Unfortunately for them, the “volunteers” learned that the government has control over their thermostats. When temps soared there this summer, folks couldn’t turn the air conditioner to a cooler temp. Why? Because the state decided it was an “emergency” – and that was part of the deal.

An emergency? What’s that? Well, in Washington, that is what Gov. Inslee has called the last 920 days of his “emergency powers.” He has called all the shots with his COVID mandates – from school closures and mask requirements to firing unvaccinated state workers.

I think you see the connection.

This could be our very near future. But you get to decide. Do you want to be among the sheep?

Listen to Dori Monson weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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