Smog blankets downtown Los Angeles on a November day in 2015. Can California meet the challenge of ending pollution like this? Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order banning the sale of new gasoline vehicles in California by 2035 marked an audacious attempt to hasten the state’s transition toward climate-friendlier policies. But the state’s likely shift toward millions more electric cars and trucks underscored a question that energy planners have been grappling with for several years: Will California have enough electricity to power all those vehicles? The short answer is yes. “There’s no technical or economic reason why the grid can’t support the full electrification of vehicles,” Chris Nelder, head of the EV-Grid Integration initiative at the Rocky Mountain Institute, told me. The long answer is more complicated. California’s electrical capacity today wouldn’t be sufficient to provide power for 26 million EV cars and light trucks if all the vehicles in the state transitioned away from gasoline by 2035. “You’ll need to beef up the grid,” Nelder says. Doubts about California’s ability to serve a vastly expanded fleet of electric vehicles were intensified by rolling blackouts imposed during two August days by the California Independent System Operator, or California ISO, which manages […]

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