EV rollout will require huge investments in strained U.S. power grids

(Reuters) – During several days of brutal cold in Texas, the city of Austin saw its fleet of 12 new electric buses rendered inoperative by a statewide power outage. That problem will be magnified next year, when officials plan to start purchasing electric-powered vehicles exclusively.

The city’s transit agency has budgeted $650 million over 20 years for electric buses and a charging facility for 187 such vehicles. But officials are still trying to solve the dilemma of power interruptions like the Texas freeze.

“Redundancy and resiliency when it comes to power is something we have long understood will be an issue,” said Capitol Metro spokeswoman Jenna Maxfield.

Austin’s predicament highlights the challenges facing governments, utilities and auto manufacturers as they respond to climate change. More electric cars will require both charging infrastructure and much greater electric-grid capacity. Utilities and power generators will have to invest billions of dollars creating that additional capacity while also facing the challenge of replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources.

Extreme weather events add additional layers of difficulty.

“Reliability keeps you awake,” California Energy Commission member Siva Gunda said in an interview.

Rolling blackouts during a California heat wave last year prompted the state to direct its utilities to procure emergency generating capacity for this summer and to reform its planning for reserve power.

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