America is not very good at power. The grid is ancient. We mess with the unknown and don’t replace the proven. We have far too many outages. There isn’t enough buried cable. The grids are largely unprotected from cyber attacks. And in California (and other eco-crazy states), the power lines represent a massive fire risk.
They’re not very good at forestry either.
Once upon a time – and in living memory – the floors of forests close to power lines were kept clean. But then we were told it was unnatural and we should stop. Rather than listen to the fire chiefs (perhaps preferring the siren song of its accountants who would have pointed out that ending the practice would save on wages) the powers-that-be allowed fallen boughs and brushwood to mount up. Of course, the inevitable happened. Live power lines fell and started fires on the forest floor. Thousands and thousands of them.
In other cases in California, the brush was set alit by crashing vehicles in a police chase, riding a lawn mower, target shooting, using a torch, faulty wiring in a hot tub, a flat tire wore to the rim.
California now has preemptive outages. They claim they’re turning off the power so that, should a storm occur, they cannot set alight the dry brush. The fact is that their third-world generating capability can’t really service the state. Potential fires might be a skirt they like to hide behind, but the sad fact for the citizens of the Golden State is that their power is often rationed, just like their sister, Communist failed-state Venezuela.
These rolling outages are not without their risks. Ask the family of Robert Mardis Sr. who relied on an oxygen machine to breathe. He died 12 minutes after a preventative power cut to his Northern California home caught the family unawares and he died before they could install his battery back-up.
And for these electric vehicle drivers? They’re screwed.
California is the biggest market for electric vehicles in the US. At a time when the electric vehicle federal tax credit is phasing out for Tesla buyers, the state is considering increasing its EV rebate to $4,500. And the state already offers a rebate of up to $2,500 for electric vehicle buyers so it’s a great set of tax-payer funded incentives.
The problem? There’s hardly enough power to go around in Cali at any time. And during rolling blackouts, these car owners have no where to charge. Unless they use solar or dig out their gas generators and give us all a chuckle.