Michael Jesso’s Fabulous, Derailed – Are We Ready For The Electric Car?

With more and more automakers setting a deadline to stop production of gasoline engines by 2030, it’s putting unrealistic pressure on federal, provincial and local governments, power suppliers and the public in general.

Electric cars or EV’s require the same style of plug as an electric dryer, in either 30amp and 50amp form. You can plug them into a standard socket but that can take overnight to charge the battery and becomes really inconvenient, fast. So the problem becomes monumental when we get to a point where the general population will be driving EV’s. Right now our power grid and infrastructure is set up for the way we live, suddenly adding 4 million charging cars in Alberta each night to a grid that’s already at capacity just won’t work. We will blow a fuse so to speak. For a comparison, look at Newfoundland’s power supply. The island of 500,000 people has a grid that was set up knowing homes were being heated by wood or oil furnaces. As wood became scarce and oil became expensive, homeowners switched to electric heat placing extreme demand on the grid. It manages to work most of the time until you have a cold winter storm sweep across the island and everyone cranks the heat up. It over demands the grid and the power company’s switch to rolling blackouts to save the grid. In Alberta and most of Canada, the electric car requirements will cause the same problem. However, that’s just one problem.

Our country is dotted with major condominium projects that don’t offer electric outlets in their garages. The power panel in the building isn’t designed to have any electrical outlets added. In my condo building alone, our upgrade price would be north of $250,000, but even if we upgraded our building to accommodate electric vehicles, we still couldn’t plug our building into the grid because it’s not designed for it.

So how much does it cost to upgrade the grid?  Billions in Alberta and trillions if we go right across Canada. Who pays for it? You will, most definitely. Right now none of the power companies that supply electricity are willing to pay for grid upgrades. The power companies are already government regulated, meaning even though they are private companies, the government tells them how much they can charge you for power. So if there’s no incentive or reasonable way for them to get their investment back, why would they. There’s no contract saying they have to.

If the electric car does become popular, or in the end, we are forced to buy them, we’re still gonna need somewhere to plug them in. Right now several big gas station chains are putting pressure on their franchisees to install changing stations. The idea is we plug our car in and have a coffee while we wait half an hour for a charge, but again, the question is who’s paying for the charging stations? Ripping up parking lots to run extension cords underground was never part of the game plan of owning a gas station. In a lot of major centres, there are changing stations taking up two or three stalls of city parking. It turns out those are privately-owned companies that the city has agreed to lease the parking spaces too, allowing them to make the money off charging.

From the top of the government all the way down, we need to figure this problem out. For the last 15 years, people who bought fully electric cars or hybrids qualified for a rebate but all that money has run out.   Can we upgrade the grid? Can we produce enough power? What’s the cost to consumers?  If it’s left unchecked you are going to see a lot of people surprised when they turn their lease back in 2030 or 2031 and realize they have an electric cord that doesn’t plug in anywhere.  Personally, I’m curious to see if Canada will look like Cuba in 30 years with everyone keeping the last of the gasoline cars alive?  Only time will tell.

If you have a spare minute, reach out to your local Mayor, MLA or MP and let them know how you feel about this issue.  Change starts with you.

Contributor | + posts

A Fort McMurray staple, Michael Jesso is a renaissance man. He is an opinion-sharer, a car aficionado, a cooking show host, and a stand-up comedian.

He tells it like it is, and has his finger on the pulse of what is happening at all times. He is connected, in the know, incredibly invested in the community, and has the most contagious laugh. Not to mention the most epic party pad in all of Fort McMurray.

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