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An electric car charging on the street. (Photo: Shutterstock/guteksk7)

Power Vacuum: California Wants to Suck Your EV

The state has decided to go all electric without having the ability to actually provide enough electricity

By Thomas Buckley, August 12, 2023 8:32 am

A literal power vacuum – that’s what California Senate Bill 233 proposes.

And what is to be sucked? Your electric car.

Authored by Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the bill – which has passed the Senate and is now wending its way through the Assembly – states that all new electric vehicles to be sold in California after 2030 be “bi-directional” (and, no, that has nothing to do with Sacramento’s LGBTQIA+ obsession.)

Because the state has decided to essentially go all electric without having the ability to actually provide enough electricity, the climate warriors have gotten a bit creative and now see the millions of EVs in the state as tiny batteries to make up for their incompetence.

Currently, not every EV can send power back to the grid (think of home solar panels that ship excess power to their local utility.)  The bill – almost certain to pass because it’s stupid and this is California –  would change that.

The bill, however, is only the first step in the process of being able to drain your EV as the actual technology to get the electricity back onto the grid, well, does not actually exist.  As with so many other Golden State climate-related projects, it is based on being able to do it someday…probably…maybe.  

While this approach allows solons and nabobs to tout their green-a-fides, set even more absurd future goals by assuming things will work eventually, increase state spending to fund such projects, and create an excuse to not actually do anything practical – like build natural gas generators –  to shore up the state’s extremely wobbly grid, it does nothing to address California’s self-imposed “energy insecurity”

The idea becomes even more absurd when one considers that shortly after announcing all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 must be electric, the state asked the public to not charge their EVs after work because the grid couldn’t handle it. In theory, this bill raises the specter of electricity being drained out of your “full” Tesla to power your neighbor’s “empty” Volt.

Furthermore, the concept is extremely dangerous.  Imagine an emergency situation in which you have to leave your home immediately but you cannot because the state drained your car. The implications for fire evacuations, earthquake response, etc. are terrifying.

Oh, and its not terribly clear if you would get paid for your power and/or if you would have to buy it back.

Beyond the impracticalities, the very concept does shine a light, as it were, on how easily the electrical power supply can be controlled.  And – if the grid is your only power option (no gas cars, no gas stoves, no propane, etc. ) – how easily the public can be controlled through it.

From “The Psychology of Electricity:”

Now, a person can go to a gas station, put solar panels on their roof, buy propane at the hardware store, use natural gas in their home, even cut down trees to burn for heat.  In other words, there are options other than electricity; there are literally millions of ways to not need to use electricity.

But imagine a literally all-electric world – you are reduced, confined, required to get the energy you need to live from one source, one centrally (by necessity) controlled source that everything you own runs on, one centrally controlled source that can cut the power to your specific home anytime it wants.

Conceivably – see China/social credit systems/central bank digital currency/”you’ll own nothing and be happy” and smart city concepts – that reasons for the power being cut will move beyond just being bill-related but conduct-related.  

The power of energy as a social control lever is nearly limitless.

And that’s another reason why this idea really sucks.

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34 thoughts on “Power Vacuum: California Wants to Suck Your EV

  1. Because Marxist Democrats who control the levers of power in California have decreed that the entire state is to go all electric without having the ability to actually provide enough electricity, they now see the millions of EVs in the state as tiny batteries to make up for their incompetence? Not surprising? Democrat Sen. Nancy Skinner the old prune faced communist from Berkeley would starve if taxpayers weren’t supporting her? She and other Marxist Democrats are all about stealing from others?

  2. Reminds me of a perpetual motion machine. The car charges the grid and the grid charges the car. Will idiots spend a hundred grand on a EV so that the government can use it as a battery? Even a brain dead green will eventually figure out that you leave the car unplugged if you want to go anywhere.

  3. Thomas, this is a topic worth further investigation. I’m an electrical engineer, and while I don’t know much about batteries and power systems, I do know that both the EV and the charging station (not to mention the power grid and power companies) are going to need additional electronics and software to support bidirectional capability. A couple of questions for starters:

    1. What will be the additional cost for an EV with bidirectional charging vs current EVs that only pull power? What other new costs might be introduced with this requirement?

    2. Do current EV batteries support this capability or will different battery types be needed? If different, do these types of batteries exist today?

    3. By how much will the car’s battery life be shortened by these extra charge and discharge cycles? Will that correspondingly reduce the (resale) value of an EV with this capability, since the already costly battery will need to be replaced more often?

    1. Another question, my plug-in hybrid minivan takes 14 hours to fully charge (~30 miles) from a standard wall outlet. If I’m out driving during the day and recharging overnight, I’m not sure when the government will have time to draw down my battery and then recharge it. Will that lead to a subsequent mandate that every EV owner have a 240V circuit for faster charging? We haven’t installed one because it’s supposed to cost thousands of dollars.

    2. The cost of the vehicle itself will be more but who knows how much
      Now, the Ford f-150 – which loses more than $60,000 per EV it sells! – has bi-charging (as do some others) but you have to buy a thing for your garage to make it work – about $2,500 installed. Unknown if that will remain the same once all EVs can do it
      And no idea about cycle time – assume a lot – or battery wear and tear, but one can assume there would be some.
      I think i left out those details because sub-consciously I didn’t want to further dignify the concept.

      1. Thanks for the reply. Clearly you are on top of this topic. Yeah Ford’s losses just highlight another aspect of how unsustainably stupid is this whole endeavor.

      2. That’s completely untrue, and unsubstantiated. FORD currently loses @ $18000 to $20000 per electricity vehicle they produce. Know your facts before you spew out random figures.

  4. The fevered brains of the insane usual suspect Dem/Marxist legislators hallucinate a goal of one day getting ALL CARS off the road, including your expensive, inconvenient, glitchy, troublesome ELECTRIC one. With rotting mashed-potatoes for brains these usual suspect legislators (and their backers) are simply not capable of actually thinking things through to what the REALITY would be if all of their hallucinations came true.

  5. you know nothing about what are called “virtual power plants”. As opposed to this being a mandate, this is an opt in program where people can sell energy back to the grid from the batteries in their cars. If you weren’t just hating on change, you’d see that this is a market based approach to grid scale storage. Have you even looked at how much Tesla Power Wall owners get paid per kWH that they sell back?

    But no, you’d rather talk trash about the idea. The consequence is to invest in more power plants. And who pays for that? The rate payers!

    The Beat dea of distributed storage means a pivot from a generation and distribution architecture that must be able to produce and deliver peak demand to a system where generation evolved to something closer to average demand. Anyone with a marginally positive IQ could see that this is much less capital intensive.

    As power generation and distribution are regulated industries with a captive customer base (us rate payers) one would hope you’d advocate for Jess capital intensive market based solutions.

    But no, you’d rather showel this sh*t than actually understand and inform.

    But what do I know, I’m just a PhD physicist who knows a thing or two about energy systemsm

    1. If you’re going to throw your educational credentials around like every other snobby progressive does, at least get your grammar correct when doing so; otherwise you come off as being foolish, and you wouldn’t want that, would you…

    2. You don’t save money trying to meet “average demand” with devices which produce power 7 hours per day (solar) and only produce 25-30% of nameplate power and some days far less (wind) by using means which cost more to buffer energy than it costs to just produce it in the first place (batteries).

    3. Don’t normally respond like this, but it needs to be done.
      First, it will not be a voluntary program. In case of grid “emergencies”, you can be assured that the state will have the authority to tap your car.
      Second, the state has a baseline energy shortage; moving the power around (from grid to car to and back to grid) may have some very transitory benefits but does not address the root of the problem: not enough power to begin with.
      Third, in regards to Tesla walls – the state just cut the amount homeowners get paid for the power they send back into the grid by 75%, thereby making their installation less likely in the future as they will not be able to “pay for themselves” in a reasonable amount of time to make it worth it for the homeowner.
      Fourth, this is not grid scale storage; it is transient and tiny. One cannot compare it to an always ready, large scale hydro pumped-storage system.
      Fifth, there are direct capital costs that will be borne by the consumer. The vehicles themselves are far more expensive and there is the cost to make your house “bi-ready.” In fact, building more gas plants would be far far cheaper – it’s called economy of scale (an 800 MW plant costs about $100 million so to increase statewide capacity by 20% it would cost about $1 billion; to outfit every home with a system capable of EV bi-directional charging would cost about $30 billion)
      Sixth, by definition state imposed mandates are not “market based solutions.”
      Seventh, if you “pivot” away from a peak demand model you literally guarantee blackouts as they are built into the system.
      Eighth, flashing your credentials may have worked to shut people up pre-pandemic, but not anymore. The credentialed “experts” screwed that pooch.
      I hope this clear things up a bit; sorry for your loss.

        1. The left seems to have no concept of the huge engine involved in, for example, the production of conventional energy or how much is needed. Or of the huge engine of the economy, for that matter, and what makes it hum (when it does). They offer only token “fixes” and amazingly that seems to satisfy the followers, who apparently are not really interested in sacrificing anything in the first place, only in appearing to sacrifice. The greenies pat themselves on the back for a job well-done when they remember to take their re-usable bags on shopping trips. Or when they buy a demonstrably non-green EV and think they are saving the earth. Funny how in the end, and it never fails, “the cure is worse than the disease.” Probably on purpose.

      1. 1-Power walls give you control how much you want to sell back vs reserve for home use

        2-Cali has lots excess power during day with duck curve around dinner time. Ev chargers at work lets you charge midday, to sell back at night at level you config, fully software defined, like powerwall does today

        3-the state cut back on how much they’ll pay for solar power sold back. Existing solar are grandfathered in. They boosted incentives for batteries and VPPs instead

        4-Vpp ain’t grid storage. It will be in 5 yrs. Meanwhile, Battery grid storage in CA was 400mwh 3 yrs ago. It’s now 5,600mwh last month. Nothing else remotely scales that fast, benefiting from wrights law. More units installed, cheaper they get, by order magnitude, initial investment notwithstanding

        5-evs are getting cheaper by day. Look at china and the epic competition there. Cheap EVs slow here cuz USA dragged its feet. China didn’t. Home charging gets cheaper with scale too. Nat gas plants aren’t getting built cuz utility solar is cheaper and faster to build. Home VPPs will just be add on to a powerwall and ride lithium battery cost curve. Car battery will follow. Even tesla is installing bi-di in cyber truck. Nat gas hasn’t gotten any cheaper for ages now and can’t. Ntm it’s subject to horrible market volatility. Why nat gas prices are roller coaster ride not for faint of heart. Unlike utility solar or wind where you sign 20 yr agreements locking in low price

        6-state mandates set price for externalities; vs market failures which don’t price in exogenous externalities like greenhouse effect. Market doesn’t know best. Why bubble and bust market cycles happen regularly every decade since time immemorial. It is basic feature of capitalism which incent extremes over time. Requiring govt bailout, privatizing gains and socializing losses. Govt is a great piñata capitalists love to wack as convenient. Ira just invested a billion in carbon capture. All of above approach means marketplace of offerings yield data which drive investment outcome not dogma. Irl govt intervention can work. “Acid rain” and cfc’s were addressed by Montreal treaty back in day within a decade. Not rocket science

        7-it’s just time arbitrage between midday supply abundance vs duck curved dinner time energy scarcity. Utility solar has best economy of scale; vpp will just be a given byproduct of future evs. Semiconductor supply chain bottlenecks are no more now; when you build millions of anything.. expect bi-directional semi support to be std esp as utilities pay handsomely for vpp vs upfront capex

        8- political economy is a pendulum. Smugness on anybody’s part just hides fact that world today is more complex than ever. Nobody knows it all. Phd or not. Covid descended from SARS and MERS decades ago. Lyme is encroaching in all corners of country thanks to volatile climate extremes. Human hubris of any stripe is that we underestimate nature at our own peril. Considering we just figured out electricity just a few decades ago one should consider that maybe evolution isn’t as stupid as we believe it to be and lot more patient and less adhd than us

        I’m a pragmatist. We’ll all be one day. This partisanship schtick only works when world was simpler. It ain’t now

        1. As to cycle life, lfp batteries last 3000 cycles, roughly 3 decades. Nmc batteries 2000. LFP uses iron and lithium both plentiful. FT just printed a primer on topic recently with nice Infograph as they do. Salton Sea will start production in 2025 yielding green lithium at mass scale. It’ll be the single biggest lithium deposit in USA rivaling China and Aussies biggest operations. Iron is everywhere. Downside is LFP density isn’t as hi as NMC chemistries. Lfmp, lfp with manganese, will improve that a lot. Lfp is already used in Teslas power walls and mega packs and by industry in general. Ford’s next gen f150 and mustang will too. Teslas standard models used that awhile now. They’re cheaper to build with no rare earths involved

          It’s easy to demonize green tech. But fact remains. Worlds brightest minds are glommed to it. Shale oil tech otoh has long faced diminishing returns to scale. Same does not hold true for solar or wind

          For ex winds biggest bogey is its fiberglass turbines aren’t recyclable. They are now. Both old and new blades https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-08/vestas-says-wind-turbine-recycling-solution-to-keep-blades-out-of-landfills?sref=s51xojRl

          Lfmp batt tech is also a sleeper nobody knows about. Lfp patents just expired last yr so USA plants are forthcoming. Ironic since lfp tech was made in USA but sold to China for pennies on dollar cuz it couldn’t get any Vc or govt funding. China got a nice bargain cuz they know markets fail plenty and they can buy or steal USA tech as needed then and now. And they did. Fortunately patent licensing had an expiration date attached to it as part of the sale thx to dare I say govt regs

          As macro tech investor I’m data driven and respect deviled details. Tech is full of ‘em. Throw in geopolitics and it’s hell scape full of good intentions but in end that only works if everybody abide by same markets know best playbook. Not everybody does

        2. This pisses off left of center libs. 1.2 billion for ccs by occidental petroleum & climeworks. Ira is setting up ccs hubs nationwide so cos can collaborate at scale to figure the Econ and sci out.

          ‘ Once operational, the hubs are expected to remove more than 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year from the atmosphere, the equivalent of taking nearly half a million gas-powered cars off the road, Granholm said. Additional projects are expected to be announced next year, the Energy Department said.

          About 18 direct air capture projects are operating around the world, but the ones being announced by the Energy Department will become the first commercial-scale deployment in the US, said Sasha Stashwick, director of policy for Carbon180, an organization focused on carbon removal policy. The overall funding represents a 400-factor increase in DAC capacity, she said.

          “This is a really big deal in the world of carbon removal,” Stashwick said. “This is going to be the largest deployment of carbon removal ever.”

          Biden Bets Billions on Tech That Sucks Carbon Out of the Air
          Direct air capture plants proposed by Occidental and Climeworks will receive as much as $1.2 billion in US funding to fight climate change.

    4. Seems like you’re the one who could inform. Quite a few questions posed in these Comments. Perhaps answering them could change some minds, possibly including your own.

    5. Whether or not you’re actually a PhD physicist who knows a thing or two about energy systems” (sic), we can tell that you ARE an arrogant progressive that uses the infantile term of “hating on change” and ad-hominem attacks on any point made other than your own.
      So tell us, oh wise and informed one, how much have you personally invested in your personal electric transportation infrastructure?
      Final thought – you may want to enhance your “PhD” in Physics with an MBA to enhance your understanding of economics so as to avoid your word-salad about “a generation and distribution architecture that must be able to produce and deliver peak demand to a system where generation evolved to something closer to average demand.”
      What the…

    6. Distributed storage is a fine idea. But I question the wisdom of car batteries being used as the storage.

      1. The additional charge/discharge cycles will cause the car battery to wear out more quickly. We already know they are extremely expensive to replace, possibly more expensive than the car is worth.

      2. Electric cars already cost more than ICE cars, which is a barrier to entry for many. Adding additional hardware and software— additional costs— to the car (and the home setup) for power return capability only makes EVs more expensive.

      To this engineer, a separate battery storage system such as the Tesla one you mention makes a lot more sense for someone who -chooses- to invest in power sharing with the grid.

  6. The author obviously didn’t know about my Ford intelligent power backup system to use my ford lighting’s battery to power my home during on peak periods and solar panels charge the ev back up again.
    So not a bad law at all. The worries about the grid sucking out all your EVs power is not due to a mandate for bidirectional charging BUT due to the utility enamored PUC.

    Enphase is supposed to sell a new bidirectional system in 2024- not someday.

    1. The Ford F-150 lightning EV that costs $90K or more? The EV pickup that Ford had to stop production of because the batteries kept catching on fire? The EV pickup that can’t haul anything heavier than a load of feathers without losing about half of its range? The EV pickup that loses range in cold weather? Here are the top five reasons to avoid the Ford F-150 Lightning at all costs: (https://www.msn.com/en-us/autos/news/top-5-reasons-to-avoid-a-ford-f-150-lightning-at-all-costs/ar-AA1ejDpI)

  7. I don’t have a degree, but let me tell you what I do have, and that is more common sense than the average liberal.This EV craz needs to stop,as everyone knows that the Oil and Gas companies for years were sued and fined by the EPA and other state and local governments in order to produce cleaner products and to do that in a cleaner way, well they spent billions of dollars to do just that and then this so called climate change, caused by mankind, supposingly,goes against them and the public like no tomorrow.The EV market should be driven by the market, not by social engineering, show a little tolerance you fools.The wind turbines kill thousands of birds and leak oil, and don’t get recycled, take energy to make, solar panels same, the silver content is much less than the cost to recycle, so please green people, take a one-way trip to Mars.

  8. The purpose of the bidirectional charging capability isn’t necessarily to supplement the grid, but rather to provide backup for electrical outages. It’s cheaper than purchasing Tesla panels, but makes the vehicle unavailable. However, if a night time outage occurs, it could be really useful. I’m personally not convinced it should be mandatory, but rather an option or competitive feature. As we all know, haters gonna hate.

  9. odd how at the end of the article the writer says that the state will control all of the ways you can get the power you need to live, but in the prior paragraph he mentions that you can use solar panels and propane to power things currently. The article doesn’t say that these power sources are disappearing but his final statement just totally disregards them. quite disingenuous. if you have solar panels and a battery to keep your solar power stored, you won’t need the power grid in the first place.

  10. This article is completely lacking of the facts.
    1. The technology exists and all safety and standardization protocols are in place. See: www dcbel.energy
    2. It would be 100% voluntary; if you choose to make money by selling energy from your battery its up to you.
    3. You could make up to $3000 annually by participating, but again it’s up to the owner of the EV
    4. This technology supports the grid by storing excess renewable energy at day and making it available for use at night.
    If you’re going to write about a subject, do your homework to be educated on the subject.

  11. Thomas Buckley Is Spot On!!

    I am an electrical engineer specializing in the design of electrical power generation, transmission and motor control technologies including solar and wind integration.

    First and foremost web search “icon Of The Seas”: The newest generation and largest cruise ship in the world now in sea trails: The Icon of the Seas derives it’s power ENTIRELY from hydrocarbon fuel, specifically compressed natural gas. Renewable energy can’t come close to powering the vessel vessel nor your mobility demands; I know this as I participated in the design of the “Icon Of The Seas” propulsion systems. PLEEEEEASE investigate the lies being perpetrated upon you and conclude the power mongers in DC and California must be stopped; their plan is to eliminate your mobility. Hydrocarbon fuels IE gasoline, diesel and natural gas are liberators thus essential to your freedom.

    The basic and exemplary math: The power demand to propel your vehicle at a modest 55 miles per hour is approximately 40,000 watts; with air conditioning enabled add another 7,500 watts. (746 watts/HP)

    The fragility of the electrical grid, not to mention it’s inherent weaknesses and inefficiencies during high demand cycles precludes entirely your power needs being satisfied by the transfer of electrons through wires. Hydrocarbon fuels remain a miracle product; protect their production and your access to them. There is NO propellant on the horizon that provides the energy density of our beloved hydrocarbon fuels provide.

  12. Yup, Spot On! And so are you, No Reluctance!

    As an engineer on the construction sites of small-to-massive Power Plants around the world, I’m stunned at the ideas generated by those given the authority to initiate action for the State of Californicated. Even more so, to bear witness to the slip-knot comments with derogatory intent.

    The System now, has loudly generated a system incapable of sound ideas without civil discussion of anything with nothing more than piss and vinegar. All professions are bound up without creative potential or opportunity for recourse.

    Thirty years down the road the crotchety old lady Senator from Berkeley will still be sucking chump change from the empty well in the capital, Snacramentental. We’ll be riding the bus or trolley from our homes – in tent city on the over or underpass (depending on our lottery number).

    Vote that Senator for a garage assignment at her own home. Wash the mouth of the twit that voted for her out with soap and more vinegar – breath smells foul-butt from Snacramental.

  13. The green fascists have a history of giving incentives ( tax credits, special privileges and cash) to hook people. Once reeled in they then take away the perks (bait ).
    For the so called phd on this thread. All this pie in the sky scheme does is move around energy (at a loss) while not generating a single watt of energy.

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