Too Many EVs, Not Enough Charging Stations For California
California, a leader in the United States in adopting electric cars, is experiencing the growing pains that accompany any paradigm shift: Its roads are being navigated by more than 150,000 electric vehicles (EVs), but its roadsides have too few charging stations to keep these cars running. And the tempers of many EV drivers are growing short.
That problem is recognizably big, and made bigger when you consider that the average gasoline-powered car can travel about 200 miles on a single tank of gas. But a full charge in an EV can’t deliver a driving range of more than about 80 miles. And that’s fraying some tempers at crowded charging stations.
The state’s governor, Jerry Brown, hopes to solve that problem. On Oct. 7 he signed a bill designed to fight climate change that, in part, urges California’s leading utilities to compete with one another in setting up thousands of charging stations in convenient locations for EV drivers around the state.
Many environmentalists say they believe this new law will lead to competition not only among the utilities, but between the electric utility industry and its petroleum counterpart. Max Barmhefner, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, put it this way: “It basically tells the electric industry to go eat the oil industry’s lunch.”
The bill, written by Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Democrat from Los Angeles, originally included language that would have required the state to adopt policies that would cut California oil consumption by half. But that provision was dropped due at least in part to intense lobbying by the oil industry.
Still, the gist of the legislation remained intact, thanks to the efforts of California’s three largest utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, which set aside about $2 billion to lobby the state during the first half of the year, outspending such oil companies as BP, Chevron, Shell and Valero.