The Price of Electricity as more people buy EVs

The Price of Electricity as more people buy EVs

This is probably a problem that would be many many years down the road as EVs on the road inch up into a big market share over ICEs, but as more people drive EV isnt that going to dramatically raise the price per kwh of the electricity we put into them?

As demand for electricity gets higher, the price rises of course and eventually will bring us right back to a comparable price as gasoline is now. And as the demand for GAS lowers considerably, the price will also lower and will again stall the adoption of electric.

What a vicious cycle.

Just wanted anyone else's thoughts on the subject.

Benz | 18 februari 2013

@ cloroxbb

This is a good and interesting point to talk about.

What you are saying is plausible, but I think that in the coming years a lot will be invested in sustainable energy (solar, wind, thermo, hydro, fusion etc.). Maybe that will be the reason that the price of electricity will not rise that much. This is just a guess. Maybe somebody else has a better guess?

olanmills | 18 februari 2013

Get ready for vague, unverified argument from anonymous forum

In other threads here, people have cited some study that said we in the US have excess production and carrying capacity in our power plants and power grid, and that something like 90% of current driving could be switched to electricity with no need for expansion of current electrical production.

If that's true, given that energy rates are at least partially regulated in most jurisdictions, I don't think prices would necessarily rise with higher EV usage, unless they needed to build out more to handle the load. Power companies will be making more per month off of their existing infrastructure, even without raising rates.

Yeah that's all I have.

Mark22 | 18 februari 2013

A lot of this depends upon how many people hare during peak times and how many charge overnight.
From what I understand, there is a ton of spare capacity at night. If this is the case, it is actually helpful to the utilities to have greater use at night.

However, this is something that is good to keep an eye on.

cloroxbb | 18 februari 2013


Im just want discussion on the subject. Doesnt have to be 100% accurate scientific analysis.

Anyways, I dont think that its going to be an issue anytime soon, and by the time it becomes an issue, hopefully we have more efficient water,wind, and solar power, and more states that use those means of power generation. That would probably keeps the costs concerning electricity cheaper and greener...

Brian H | 18 februari 2013

No kidding! We're lucky to get 50% accurate scientific analysis here. (Or anywhere.) >:D

jamesamyx | 18 februari 2013

Since most cars that are plug in charge at night, they are using electricity that would otherwise be wasted. With newer solar panel efficiency a few panels could power a charging station, and half a roof on a home could power the home and charge the car. America is currently in a decreasing usage of electricity pattern. I dont think the "grid" will be over taxed anytime soon.

jackhub | 18 februari 2013

I thinki the key is when the charging takes place. When the local power company engineer came out to check my service capacity for EV 40amp/240 volt charging, he said the grid has incredible unused caqpacity from about 10PM until about 6AM and it is both expensive and time consuming to shut down generators. That is why they offer a 30% discount for charging EV cars at night. Of course given enough time and sale of EVs, who knows.

Jaanton | 7 maart 2013

Some data points.

That's the grid capacity for California. IMO it's interesting that from 3a.m. to about 7:30a.m. the actual load is usually higher than predicted. The point is that EV's can fill that trough in overnight capacity. The problem may come from the last transformers before reaching a house probably need to idle overnight to cool down. My utility put an extra transformer on my block a few months after getting my car.

Brian H | 7 maart 2013

The graph is only a partial range, of course. In numbers, the peak is about 50% higher than the trough.

FLsportscarenth... | 8 maart 2013

I do not think the impact of EVs will be that great on the overall usage and the small increase in demand will be met without significant difficulty.

Likely the cost of electricity will drop long-term relative to inflation in many places: the drivers being a better more efficient grid (with proper investment), more use of lower cost renewables like wind (wind cost less than burning oil currently) and because of mass production efficiencies its cost will continue to drop, in high cost areas like Hawaii PV solar already makes sense and steady improvements in PV technology will help make it practical in southern California, Arizona and South Texas. Renewables only make sense in certain places but deployment is increasing and thus the relative cost will drop compared to petroleum costs (which drive inflation).

Brian H | 8 maart 2013

"lower cost renewables" are a pure figment of PR agent imagination. When all costs are tallied, they are multiples of conventional ones. You need only realize that virtually all such sources are so variable and unreliable that they must be backstopped 100% by (necessarily high cost and inefficient) quick-response conventional plants to pick up slack when they go flat. Random blackouts and brownouts are not an option for a modern economy. And the oft-quoted "balancing" of geographically distant sources is not on; the grid connections necessary to achieve that are prohibitively difficult and expensive, when actually analysed. And when measured, even such geographically distant sources frequently share very low output periods.

These limitations are not susceptible to technological solution. They are inherent.

oildeathspiral | 9 maart 2013

All things considered, I think EV's will be a boon for utilities and their ratepayers, assuming they are allowed to charge demand based higher rates during peak hours and lower at non-peak.
First, as has been mentioned, utilities have plenty of excess capacity at night. More importantly, this excess capacity gives them the option of using the lowest cost facility or fuel; at peak demand they must start up and use even the most expensive plants or purchase power on the open market which can be VERY expensive.
Second, demand response programs along with smart grid technology being tested will allow utilities to manage more overall demand with fewer facilities, especially as EV use grows. For example, say you get home at 8pm, it takes 8 hours to fully charge your car and you need it fully charged by 7am. By allowing the utility to vary charging ie full power when there is low demand and suspending charging when demand spikes, they can operate fewer plants yet still meet demand. You don't care that charging rates varied or even were suspended at times overnight, just that your car is ready to go at 7. Instead of having 1/3 of the power used in generating electricity being consumed "just in case", it could be reduced to somewhere closer to actual demand.
Third, future utility scale storage combined with EV to grid technology will give utilities huge leeway in matching demand with supply, further reducing the need for operating facilities over actual demand, not to mention reducing the need to build new plants which are very expensive. This will mean lower costs for the utilities and for rate payers (I know some of you will be skeptical of that one).

Isn't increased demand for a product during non-peak hours exactly what every company wants? I believe this is what EVs will do for utilites (again assuming most charging is at night). Utilities will have additional profits that will help to pay for the required grid upgrades. A good scenario for them, their customers and those who are concerned about environmental issues. Another reason I am so enthusiastic about Tesla (have to tie that in!).

FLsportscarenth... | 9 maart 2013

Sorry Brian, have to disagree with you.

Hydro power is THE least expensive way to produce electricity (and one of the oldest utility scale methods of production) - it produces no pollution and is renewable. The problem is the US has run out of empty valleys to dam.

Bravo to Norway for generating roughly its total usage with carbon free hydro, now they need to build more wind to export to the rest of Europe (which they have the potential for).

Solar and wind have been shown to somewhat balance each other (places with good solar and wind potential - think Spain, no blackouts in Spain...).

As long as wind is under 20% of your generation capacity its variability can be handled by a robust and diversified grid (no rolling blackouts in Texas, Iowa or Oregon).

The costs of wind power is gradually reducing and even environmental menace Red China sees it's potential and has been installing generators like crazy (they beat the US in nameplate capacity two years ago and continue to move faster).

PV solar costs remain to high for wide deployment at the utility scale in many places, but in some high cost places like Hawaii and small island which need to import petrol it is already cost effective, even in selected parts of the mainland US we could start cost effectively replacing oil burning peaker plants with PV.

It will take a while to phase out natural gas and coal for power generation in the US, but at least they are domestic... one step at a time.

oildeathspiral | 9 maart 2013


I agree with some of your points however a couple of notes: I was told by the chief engineer of a large NE power plant that for every mw of wind power around 2mw of conventional power had to be operating to assure no brownouts. In other words no net energy savings. I haven't been able to independently prove this but even if the ratio is off the idea makes sense. He said utilities generally liked wind power anyway because they could recoup the costs despite the inefficiency. I might add that this large, old, oil and nat gas burning plant only operates about 30 days out of the year, only when extreme conditions made it cost effective. And it rarely uses oil, which brings about the second point. In the U.S., only about 1% of electricity is generated from oil (and 1% of oil is used for electricity) and that is for peak or emergency backup power. As you note, Hawaii is an exception to the U.S. average.

FLsportscarenth... | 9 maart 2013

I am not an engineer but observe that Denmark (which source the highest amount of electricity from wind) does not suffer from blackouts but it does buy power from its neighbours to balance the variability. If wind was not saving them money they would not have built so much wind capacity years ago (when costs were even higher) and still be adding capacity). Mainland China would not be building capacity today if it was not reducing their need for fossil fuels.

Brian H | 9 maart 2013

hydro is special, and geo-limited. It cannot be much expanded beyond current use.

Denmark and other countries with high (excess) wind capacity sometimes end up paying other countries to take it (produced when not needed or wanted) and then paying thru the nose to cover shortfalls. About as stooopid as it gets.

Timo | 10 maart 2013

There is also geothermal which is also very effective and cheap depending of the place. Solar can be cheap too in right place.

I personally don't like wind, it is unreliable, noisy and ugly wherever I encounter it. Those of you that think wind farms being silent, go look one of them in windy day when they actually generate electricity. They also kill birds. I would much rather try to find way to use hydrocarbons and burn them than use wind.

Main difference in future energy use comes from smarter building and techs, not getting more power from renewables. Industry also seeks less energy consuming ways to do stuff all of time, so that is not only homes that get better. Our everyday stuff uses a lot less energy / item now than they did just 20 years ago. Tablet computers run at tiny fraction of the energy used with old computers, and I have now one desktop one that is more than sufficient to me that uses only around 11W when working (totally silent, no fans, SSD).

Also less people around would help, IIRC population peaks at somewhere around 10 billion at around 2050 and then starts to decline which is good. 5 billion people use half as much energy as 10 billion, that's just raw fact.

If needed we can put solar in space. Expensive to build, but not that expensive to maintain and doesn't care about seasons. Sun radiation is also quite a bit stronger in space than it is ground level.

In short, we will not run out of energy. There are more than enough all kinds of sources that we haven't even started to use.

PS. I agree with Brian H that CO2 is not pollution, I don't agree with him that it doesn't heat up Earth, but ask yourself is that actually bad thing if it does? I mean in global scale. We are too far from Sun to get similar runaway greenhouse as Venus has. Heating itself is not bad, it is just the pace it is happening, local changes happen too fast for nature to get adjusted. If we get a bit stronger greenhouse here we have entire new large continent to get habitable conditions (Antarctic). More heat also means more moisture to air, which might turn old deserts into forests.

If we start using only renewables we might actually want to heat this globe a bit artificially.

Brian H | 10 maart 2013

Population is not a problem. The "Low Band" UN projections are always the closest (and even they err on the high side), and they say peak >8bn by about 2040. A declining, geriatric demography is likely to be the problem!

And the "greenhouse Venus" speculation by Sagan et al. doesn't hold water. <1% of solar radiation reaches the surface, and that invalidates the core requirement of the re-radiation hypothesis. And despite super-slow (retrograde) rotation, dayside and nightside are only about 1K different. Many other incompatible observations.

Brian H | 10 maart 2013

Typo: ...they say <8bn by about 2040. ...

Brian H | 10 maart 2013

Corr: ...they say peak <8bn by about 2040. ...

oildeathspiral | 10 maart 2013

" If wind was not saving them money they would not have built so much wind capacity years ago (when costs were even higher) and still be adding capacity)."

Not necessarily. Cost is not a major issue and becomes a non-issue the more environmentally activist one is. Look no further than California, where the state has mandated very high renewable energy goals. I don't believe price is an exception to this requirement. As of Jan 2011, to go from 20% renewable to 35% "Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (the country’s largest municipally-owned utility)" " DWP estimates it will need rate increases of between 5 and 8 percent every year for the next five years to finance the investments necessary to meet the renewable goals."
One solution: environmentalists should embrace fracking and the cost benefit it provides to nat gas and also encourage switching from coal to nat gas. This will slightly bring down electricity prices, offer cleaner air and less co2. By the time this change has mostly been accomplished in a few years, grid storage, wind and solar among other non-fossil methods will be cost competitive without subsidies. And I wouldn't be surprised if Tesla, Solar City and/or Elon Musk is a part of the cost effective commercialization of grid scale storage.

Brian H | 10 maart 2013

Economics will mandate fracking, embraced or not.

Timo | 11 maart 2013

Brian H, it seems that you don't understand how greenhouse effect works. That's exactly the greenhouse-effect that causes both sides of the Venus globe being same temperature. Solar radiation does not need to reach surface, it heats the atmosphere. That's the point of greenhouse-effect. More gets absorbed in the atmosphere than gets radiated away until equilibrium has been reached. That equilibrium is quite hot for Venus.

Brian H | 11 maart 2013

All false. The Greenhouse effect depends on a) surface heating b)reradiated IR from the surface c) surface IR absorbed by GHG d) radiation from the GHGs re-impacting the surface e) cycle of the above "trapping" heat on or near the surface. If it never reaches the surface, the cycle cannot begin. Simple atmospheric heating does not start, let alone continue that.

In reality, the heightened ability of GHGs to radiate pumps more heat into space more quickly, too, so there is no trapping (proven by satellite measurements, as mentioned earlier). So your physics fails no matter which point you choose as a starting point.

Timo | 11 maart 2013

Atmosphere heats up, heats ground, that radiates back to atmosphere etc. What's so difficult to understand in that? That's greenhouse-effect. Sun radiation does not need to reach surface directly, it's enough that a lot of it gets absorbed to the atmosphere.

Your second paragraph sounds like you are claiming that such a thing as GHG does not exist? Do you understand how stupid that makes you sound like?

Bubba2000 | 11 maart 2013

Bloomberg has a article that says that wind power and NG, have become economical enough to displace nuclear and coal plants. Parts of the country have surplus electricity and the cost drops to near zero at night. A great time for this electricity to be used to charge BEV. A lot of countries like China, Europe, etc are in the process of moving to renewables. It is not feasible to continue burning gasoline/diesel because of smog.

What is missing for mass adoption of BEV is a disruptive tech in batteries. Graphene electrodes may provide the tech that is needed to double the capacity of the Lithium batteries. Advances in tech can change the entire landscape of ICE autos. Just like what digital photography did to Kodak. Or digital music and videos did to CD stores, Blockbuster Video, etc. 8-Track tape player anybody?!

Meanwhile, Tesla with cars like the Model S will continue improving relentlessly. That is how tech works. Battery capacity increases at a compound rate of 7%/year on the average. Electrical efficiency of the inverter, motor will improve. Metal structures will become lighter with improved design, stronger alloys, etc. Costs will drop like most manufactured products, especially electronic. Time is their favor. ICE autos burning dinosaur juice and belching smoke are an anachronism.

Brian H | 11 maart 2013

No, GHGs exist. But they do not have the effect Believers claim. And the sequence is NOT thermal heating of the ground by the air (which has a tiny heat capacity, and is utterly inadequate to such a task anyway), etc. That demonstrates total ignorance of your own theory.

BTW, your earlier use of "climate change skeptics" is more Believer nonsense. Skeptics are skeptical of Human-driven climate change. In fact, they acknowledge a far wider range and variability of climate than Believers do, who seem to think the lowest depths of the Little Ice Age (when it happens thermometers were first invented) is some kind of normal or ideal to which we should aspire, instead of the least salubrious climate humanity had endured since the ice sheets receded 10,000+ years ago. This warm "bump" is the fourth and lowest in a series since then, and we would be far better off if it was higher and bigger and warmer.

GoTeslaChicago | 11 maart 2013

"Do you understand how stupid that makes you sound like?"

Venus is twice as far from the sun as Mercury, so it get 1/4th the solar heat that Mercury does. (inverse square law) Saying the Greenhouse theory doesn't work on Venus when Venus is hotter than Mercury, is like standing outside a real glass greenhouse on a cold winter day and denying the greenhouse effect, even though it is warm and toasty inside!

No wonder they're called deniers!

FLsportscarenth... | 11 maart 2013

Thanks to the bubba's article "Wind is gaining as turbine costs plummet -- they are down one-third since 2010 -- and technology gains make windmills economical in states with lower average wind speeds."

I am a fan of wind - I love the no fuel cost, all domestic part the most. Our green friends point out that they remove kinetic energy from the atmosphere thus reversing global warming.

We have had global warming since the last ice age and it has been good for humanity, but a too rapid acceleration of the trend would pose a problem - I am very skeptical about a lot of the dogma and intentions behind the climate change agenda, cap and trade and kyoto is a big danger to the economy in my view, yet I favour a gradual move away from ICE cars and a cleaner grid...

Brian H | 11 maart 2013

The sunlight does not penetrate to the ground. Venus has almost 100X the atmospheric density of Earth, which generates the temperature. At the 1 bar (Earth sealevel) density height, the temperature is exactly what is expected with no GHG effect on Earth. The effect of CO2 is a wash; it increases output as much as it inhibits upwelling IR, at least. (Without GHGs, especially the super-dominant H2O on Earth, the atmosphere would be warmer because it would have a hard time radiating heat away.)

Anyway, that's enough. There are reams of discussion and articles on the subject, which I'm not going to try and summarize.

The real bottom line is politics, and it's going the way that Reality dictates. From Copenhagen to Kyoto to Doha to Cancun etc., efforts to impose CO2 reduction ("de-carbonization", one of the stupidest terms ever concocted) are falling flat. China, the Greens' idol nation, is building coal-fired plants at a rate exceeding the rest of the world put together. Because it must in order to survive. Germany is replacing the nuclear plants it so foolishly cancelled and decommissioned with brown coal-burning plants. The US is switching to its almost limitless natural gas. The Chicago Carbon Exchange (CCX) founded by Gore went belly-up. The European Carbon Market is selling credits at about almost 1/3 the "minimum price" believed to be required to have an impact, and falling steadily. And so on.

However CO2, globally, is continuing its rise, ever faster. And the global temps have flat-lined for almost 2 decades now, in complete contradiction to the Believers' Credo. It's all over but the screams as the fools realize how much of their money they've been parted from.

FLsportscarenth... | 11 maart 2013

@Oildeath Costs are VERY important... The economy AND ecology favours harnessing hydro where ever there is still untapped potential left, then using wind where it is strong enough (looking at the wind maps and the band of high potential along the foot of the Rockies I would say that hitting 20% would not be a problem with grid improvements). Yet idealism does not pay the bills, although I generally oppose burning of fossil fuels when it can be economically avoided, we still need low cost natural gas plants to balance out variablity and for the wind poor SE states. Coal is dirty but low costs means it is not going away anytime soon.

PV solar has a lot of potential but have to wait till around 2020 or so for it to become cost effective in a wider area, when that happens you will see coal plants getting phased out in high solar potential areas.

Timo | 12 maart 2013

@Brian H, how exactly pressure creates heat? Please tell us. Then answer this "Why isn't bottom of the ocean boiling hot?".

Brian H | 12 maart 2013

It doesn't create heat. If you were (this time) to read and comprehend the actual words, I said it raises temperature. If every molecule has a fixed kinetic (thermal) energy, which thermometer shows a higher reading: one with X impacts from molecules per second, or one with 100X? The difference is that gases are compressible, and water is not, so the impacts per sq." at the bottom of the sea are not affected by pressure.

Timo | 12 maart 2013

As you say, it doesn't create heat. So where does that heat come from if not from Sun? 100x times thicker atmosphere can absorb a lot more heat than our atmosphere can, and Venus is much closer to Sun. It is greenhouse-effect that keeps it inferno.

cloroxbb | 12 maart 2013

Im sorry, but I stopped reading after this thread became an argument about whether Global Warming is real or not, or whatever.

My question is, "Is anyone debating the topic anymore?"

penguin_brian | 12 maart 2013

@FLsportscarenth unfortunately, at least in Australia, wind farms have a very vocal opposition, with people claiming that living near a wind farm causes all sorts of health issues.

As a result, the Victorian government has put in place restrictive planning requirements for new wind farms.

Also see:

FLsportscarenth... | 12 maart 2013


Poor Oz... Government does not want to encourage you to buy EVs, silly protestors do not want clean energy... All they want is to tax the crap out of you...

Friendly people, beautiful place, brain-dead management...

Vawlkus | 14 maart 2013

Hell, Oz is still getting video games censored to the nth degree. I think a major shift is needed in gov't sooner rather than later.

Bob Kroll | 22 maart 2013

In Northern California, PG&E, the utility co., has an "electric car rate" of 4cents/kwh available from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.! Perhaps other utilities will adopt this pro-EV posture. They should. In the long run, these cars are good for everyone and should be promoted and encouraged in every way possible.

Bob Kroll | 22 maart 2013

In Northern California, PG&E, the utility co., has an "electric car rate" of 4cents/kwh available from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.! Perhaps other utilities will adopt this pro-EV posture. They should. In the long run, these cars are good for everyone and should be promoted and encouraged in every way possible.

alcassfast | 22 maart 2013

I saw a webinar yesterday and the guy said if 10 to 15% of autos in British Columbia were electric, i.e., 280,000 to 420,000 cars, we would save 1.5 billion dollars per year on oil costs, and would be keeping those dollars in BC, because of locally produced hydroelectricity.

evpro | 22 maart 2013

The supply of electricity should be sufficient, particularly with the load being primarily at night, plus the advent of solar charging at work and at Superchargers. As the last post mentioned, the economic and energy independence benefits of domestic power are huge.

I have heard that there is a potential issue with transformer capacity in the last few miles of distribution if there are "too many" EVs on your block, but that won't happen immediately and can be planned for. Might be an argument for slower charge rates at home if the time is available.

Brian H | 22 maart 2013

There is plenty of unused nighttime capacity for EVs. Power stations do not "go to sleep".