Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

ERCOT Says the Grid Can Handle Electric Cars

Photo by KUT News

A Chevy Volt gets a charge in Austin.

The potential for electric cars to reduce pollution and save drivers some gas money has spurred a market for the vehicles (not to mention government investment).

But there’s always been a lingering concern about the vehicles, especially in Texas where we often hear about the fragility of our electric grid. The worry goes something like this: “If everyone started driving an electric car, could the grid be strained to the point of collapse?”

Probably not, says Trip Doggett.

Doggett is CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas – which oversees the state’s electric grid. On Tuesday he told lawmakers on the Senate Natural Resources Committee that he doesn’t believe even widespread adoption of electric vehicles would have any negative effect on the transmission system.

Doggett offered it was possible that there could be some localized disruption to electric distribution if electric cars become widely adopted in some electricity markets.

“The localized distribution companies may have some localized challenges as electric vehicles are located within neighborhoods,” Doggett said. “In the long term there could be some impact to our resource adequacy challenge, but my belief is that’s not a significant issue in the near term.”

There is research under way on the effects of electric car use on local grids, some of it right here in Texas.

If the electric vehicle population continues to grow Doggett says there is one challenge ahead: making sure owners don’t get into the habit of charging their cars during peak electric use hours – like on a hot summer afternoon.


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