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Electric Vehicles Add to Electricity Demand, But Not as Much as You Might Think

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California recently asked homeowners to reduce electricity consumption to help avoid blackouts as temperatures soared and the power system struggled to keep up.

The plea was effective, with consumers temporarily dialing back demand enough to keep the lights on across the state. But these sorts of close calls are the stuff of nightmares for system operators, and this specific brush with near-disaster had a new element that caught a lot of attention: a call to electric vehicle owners to avoid charging during peak demand hours.

Invariably, this was pounced on by critics as proof that California's just-announced plan to phase out sales of new combustion vehicles by 2035 was doomed to fail. “How can the state electrify the vehicle fleet if it can barely keep the lights on?” went the refrain.

These types of discussions get emotional quickly, so it's worth stepping back a bit to look at the data on how much electricity consumption EVs really add.

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