California flags petrol-car ban, then asks EV owners not to recharge

Californians have been told not to charge their electric vehicles during peak hours, just days after the state said it would stop selling petrol powered cars, as the ageing electricity grid struggles with a fearsome heatwave.

Temperatures as high as 44 degrees Celsius were forecast in some Los Angeles suburbs as a huge heat dome bakes a swath of the western United States.

The sweltering weather will put huge demands on the already-stretched power grid, especially when people crank up the air conditioners during the broiling hours after work and school.

The California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s power grid, told residents that between 4pm and 9pm “they should also avoid charging electric vehicles.”

California’s power companies routinely ask households to limit their usage during the so-called “shoulder hours,” when rooftop solar panels stop producing electricity but demand remains high because of still-elevated temperatures.

The call to limit electric vehicle charging comes a week after state regulators banned the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered vehicles from 2035.

All but a handful of SUVs, cars and light trucks will have to produce zero tailpipe emissions, with only highly efficient plug-in hybrids permitted to burn fossil fuels.

The move was hailed as a game-changer for the EV industry because of the size of California’s auto market and the potential it has to set national, and even international, standards.

Wednesday’s plea to conserve power was greeted with derision on Twitter, where some said it was proof the state had not thought through its green agenda.

“Perhaps we should figure out how to fix our electric grid before we outlaw gas cars … just a thought,” tweeted @AerysGG.

“So………this is what they want. Walking? Hitchin’ A Ride?? Moving to a more reasonable state??” tweeted @cinda_scheef.

In response to soaring power demands, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency that temporarily removes pollution controls on fossil fuel power plants to allow them to generate more electricity.

He pointed to the punishing drought in the US West that has crippled hydro-electric plants, and noted the direct effect that climate change is having on day-to-day lives.

“Energy reliability becomes more and more challenging … because demand increases at the same time supply decreases,” he said.

The National Weather Service has issued an “excessive heat warning” for most of California, as well as parts of Arizona and Nevada.

It is not unusual for southern California to experience heatwaves in September, but temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit are considered hot even for a place almost perpetually baked by sunshine.

The heatwave comes after swathes of the southwest were lashed with torrential rains over recent weeks.

Some areas, including the notoriously dusty Death Valley, suffered flooding.

Scientists say global warming, which is being driven chiefly by humanity’s use of fossil fuels, is making natural weather variations more extreme.

Heatwaves are getting hotter and more intense, while storms are getting wetter and, in many cases, more dangerous.

Originally published as California asks EV owners not to charge their cars, after announcing petrol car ban

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