Is The Grid Ready for Electric Cars?

September 2, 2009

Some people are worried that lots of plug-in electric cars will cause brownouts or blackouts. At least two automakers will have plug-in electrics on the market next year. But utility companies say, don't worry. They're ready.

Some people are worried that lots of plug-in electric cars will cause brownouts or blackouts. At least two automakers will have plug-in electrics on the market next year. But utility companies say, don't worry. They're ready. Tracy Samilton reports:

A lot of electric power plants in the U.S. sit idle between 9 p.m. and noon each day.

Ed Kjear is head of Electric Transportation for Southern California Edison. He says, as long as people plug in their electric cars during those off-peak hours.

"160, 170 million cars could connect to the grid tomorrow and we wouldn't have to build new power plants to meet that load," said Kjear.

At first, just a few thousand people will own plug-in electric cars at first. Utilities will work with these customers to hook up to new "smart grid" technology that can program when each car starts recharging.

"The customer will say, 'look I need the car fueled by 6 or 7 tomorrow morning. You know, have at it,'" said Kjear

Kjear says the technology will be easy to install and use by the time most of us shift from gasoline to electricity to fuel our cars.