California on brink of blackouts two weeks after banning gas and diesel engines

On August 25, 2022, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel-powered engines for passenger vehicles by 2035. Two weeks later, on September 6, the state teetered on the brink of blackouts. Unfortunately, this situation could soon come to Minnesota.

Electric vehicles and grid reliability

California currently has a regulation called the Zero Emissions Vehicle (ZEV) rule, which requires auto manufacturers to stock a certain percentage of electric vehicles (EVs) or fuel cell cars in the state.

As a result of these regulations, EVs constituted 12 percent of the vehicles sold in California in 2021, and EVs made up 2.5 percent of all registered vehicles in the Golden State in 2021. As these regulations become more stringent in the future, the strain they place on California’s unreliable electric grid will increase.

Reuters reports that the installed capacity on the electric grid would need to double by 2050 to accommodate a world where 66 percent of cars on the road are electric. This is bad news for California, which is already on the brink of blackouts, and will ostensibly hit the 66 percent mark before the rest of us.

On the brink

California came very close to blackouts last night, with the California grid operator, the California Independent Systems Operator (CAISO), barely avoiding them by begging Golden State residents to reduce their power consumption.

California is expected to struggle to keep the lights on tonight, as well. It will be interesting to see if they can stave off the blackouts until the heat subsides.

Minnesota’s future

Minnesota’s electric grid is also strained because too many electric companies have tried to replace reliable coal and nuclear plants with wind and solar. Now, the regional grid has a 1,200-megawatt capacity shortfall, enough to power about half the homes in Minnesota on an average hour.

Unfortunately, we seem destined to replicate California’s failures, as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has unilaterally adopted California’s ZEV rules mandating automakers to stock electric vehicles in the state. It is important to note that these rules will not prohibit the sale of gas or diesel cars in Minnesota at this time, but the Walz administration could begin enacting them at any moment.

At the same time, the Walz plan for the electric grid is a page out of California’s playbook, leading to skyrocketing prices and blackouts. Stay tuned for American Experiment’s latest report to be released next week on the high cost of the Walz 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040.