California’s Transportation Infrastructure: How Much Electricity Does It Really Need?

California needs to charge electric vehicles during day, not night, to save grid, study says

This story is the second in a two-part series on the study “California’s Transportation Infrastructure: How Much Electricity Does It Really Need?”

Transportation has the biggest impact on California’s electricity demand, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the state’s electricity consumption, according to an analysis completed this month by a team of energy, policy and transportation experts. This makes driving — and not just driving, but also using non-gas transit modes such as walking or biking — the single most important contributor to California’s total electricity consumption.

The analysis found that transportation consumes almost 60 percent of California’s peak demand from all sources, more than a quarter of total demand. This means driving is by far the single biggest factor driving California’s electricity consumption during the peak demand hours. Driving also accounts for nearly 38 percent of all California’s peak demand, or nearly half of the state’s peak demand.

It makes sense, given the amount of electricity consumed by transportation. It consumes more than half of total California peak demand. That’s a lot of energy. And as California’s electricity demand rises, the state is likely to need more power to meet demand. And to meet that demand, there’s a lot more that California’s power system needs to do. But the analysis found that because of concerns over vehicle grid reliability, most of the state’s major metropolitan areas currently don’t have a system that can handle both driving and electricity during peak demand.

A new study from the Pacific Institute and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) analyzed the role of transportation in California electricity demand by taking a broad look at electricity use in all 50 of the state’s metropolitan areas. The authors found that more than three-quarters of all electricity consumption in the state takes place during peak demand hours, and nearly half of peak demand — or about 33 percent — is driven by driving. That’s more than four times the percentage driven by home air conditioning.

This is due in

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