EV owners navigating utility blackouts

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EV owners navigating utility blackouts

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 (Tesla EVs waiting line 10 deep @Los_Gatos-CA supercharger)
California PG&E power outages: Tesla, Audi respond to situation
October 10, 2019  Sean Szymkowski

Electrify America charging station says all of its chargers are currently
operable  / Electrify America

Rod Beckstrom @RodBeckstrom
@Tesla car waiting line up to 10 deep at supercharger Los Gatos as PGE
announces outages... View image on Twitter
10:47 PM - Oct 8, 2019

We spoke with a handful of automakers about how owners of electric cars can
navigate the blackouts.

For California residents, wildfires are becoming a new normal. One of the
state's largest utility companies, PG&E, has initiated wide-ranging
blackouts to protect against the possibility of a fire that could quickly
turn into a statewide emergency. The practice, called a "public safety power
shutoff," began Wednesday, as high winds and hot temperatures move over the
area, with some 500,000 electricity customers affected across the Bay Area.
Up to 800,000 people may feel the effects throughout the blackouts.

When power will come back on is unclear. For electric vehicle owners, that
poses a bit of a problem, since their cars' main source of power comes from
electric charging stations at home or at public stations. Without a source
of power, EVs won't get terribly far.

Ahead of the blackout on Wednesday, Tesla pushed a notification to owners'
cars urging them to fully charge their car ahead of the blackout in their
area. In part, the notification said the blackout "may affect power to
charging options." The automaker continued, "As always, your touchscreen
will display live statuses of Superchargers in your area."

Tesla did not respond to Roadshow's request for comment when we asked for
additional information about advice it may have for Model 3, Model S and
Model X owners. In response to the notification, Tesla owners took to social
media to share photos of massive lines at nearby Supercharger stations.

On Wednesday evening, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted the company plans to
install the company's Powerpacks at Supercharger stations to protect them
from power outages. The Powerpacks will be installed in the next few weeks
as Tesla awaits permits. He added Tesla Solar is also coming to stations to
provide clean power and no blackouts around the clock.

Audi told Roadshow that E-Tron owners typically drive, on average, 48 miles
per day, which leaves plenty of battery reserve in the case of a blackout.
With the figure, E-Tron drivers, on average, need to fully charge their cars
every four days.

Still, the company checked with Electrify America (a Volkswagen Group
subsidiary) and the charging station operator said there are no stations
affected by the PG&E blackouts at this time. The Audi E-Tron's in-car
navigation will show which Electrify America stations are currently occupied
or not available, though the company said it's working to learn what a
station would display if it did not have power.

If that's not enough, Audi also offers seven days of Silvercar service to
all owners, including those who left the dealership with an E-Tron. "It
would allow customers to drive an Audi from Silvercar at no additional cost
they needed to get through a difficult period caused by a blackout," a
representative told Roadshow via email.

Toyota, which currently does not sell a fully electric car, did comment on
the benefits of the Prius Prime. A representative told Roadshow via phone
that situations such as the safety power shutoff underscore the benefits of
a plug-in hybrid since the Prius Prime can also run its internal combustion
engine, which takes gasoline.

However it's important to note that even in a blackout, gasoline stations
cannot operate, either. Where the problem gets trickier is an EV's range
limitations compared with a tank of gasoline, and the sheer abundance of
fuel pumps compared with charging stations.

Roadshow also reached out to General Motors for comment on the situation,
but the automaker did not immediately respond. Nissan also did not
immediately respond for this story. The Chevy Bolt EV and Nissan Leaf are
two additional mass-market electric cars on sale.
[© cnet.com]

+ (San_Diego-CA utility also cuts power)
SDG&E continues power shutoffs citing high fire risk, residents and
officials outraged
October 30, 2019  SDG&E continues power shutoffs citing high fire risk,
residents and officials outraged ... San Diego Gas & Electric officials said
the utility was ... power lines ... travel ... difficult for high-profile
vehicles ...
Scenes From a Burning State: The California Wildfires
Oct. 30, 2019  Wednesday: The latest on major fires, wind danger and power
shut-offs ... Yucca blooms near remnants of the Cedar Fire that burned in
the Cleveland National Forest in north San Diego County in 2003 ...

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