By 2035, the chief automakers will have turned away from the internal combustion engine. It’ll be up to the grid to fuel all those new cars, trucks and buses.

On a good day, a fair wind blows off Lake Ontario, the long-distance transmission lines of New York state are not clogged up and yet another heat wave hasn’t pushed the urban utilities to their limits. On such a day, power from the two big wind turbines in Vaughn Moser’s hayfield in this little village join the great flow of electricity from upstate as it courses through the bottleneck west of Albany and then heads south, where some portion of it feeds what is currently the country’s largest electric vehicle charging station, on the edge of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, the Washington Post reports.

There, at an installation opened earlier this year by a car-sharing company called Revel, on the site of the old Pfizer pharmaceutical headquarters, this carbon-free power can help juice up a whole fleet of sleek vehicles that aim to leave the internal combustion engine behind.

But that’s on a good day. Even now — before this state and the country’s grand ambitions for an electric future are fully in motion — there are too many bad ones.

Seventy-four times last year, the wind across Upstate New York dropped so low that for stretches of eight hours or more barely any electricity was produced. Nearly half the year, the main transmission line feeding the metropolitan area was at full capacity, so that no more power could be fed into it. Congestion struck other, smaller lines, too, and when that happened some of the wind turbine blades upstate fell still.

And in New York City this summer, the utility Con Edison appealed to customers to cut back on their electricity usage during the strain of five separate heat waves, while Tropical Storms Elsa, Henri and Ida cut power to thousands.

Converting the nation’s fleet of automobiles and trucks to electric power is a critical piece of the battle against climate change. The Biden administration wants to see them account for half of all sales by 2030, and New York state has enacted a ban on the sale of internal combustion cars and trucks starting in 2035.

But making America’s cars go electric is no longer primarily a story about building the cars. Against this ambitious backdrop, America’s electric grid will be sorely challenged by the need to deliver clean power to those cars. Today, though, it barely functions in times of ordinary stress, and fails altogether too often for comfort, as widespread blackouts in California, Texas, Louisiana and elsewhere have shown.

(Read more)

© Copyright LaPresse