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Flex Alert presents unique challenges for electric vehicle drivers

The ongoing heat wave has resulted in at least three days of Flex Alerts so far, and as Californians seek to cut back on energy usage, electrical vehicle owners are wondering what they’re supposed to do if they need to get around town.

This week, EV owners have been doing their part to avoid charging between 4 and 9 p.m., but is this a sign of a future problem for drivers?

Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom got an important regulatory approval as part of his plan to ban new gas-powered vehicle sales in the state by 2035 to reduce carbon emissions.

This will put more electric vehicles on the road, but some SoCal EV owners say the infrastructure isn’t ready for such a drastic change.

EV owners who can’t charge at home rely on public charging stations, and much like public restrooms, when too many people need to use them at once, problems can arise, an EV owner named Rebecca said.

“Unless you have a home charger it’s an absolute disaster,” she said.

“If we can’t do these things today, how are we going to do when everything needs to be electric?,” another driver asked.

Drivers pointed out that wildfires are more prevalent during Flex Alert periods, and they worry about their options for charging when they’re fleeing a blaze.

“Have they thought through what happens in that situation?,” the driver asked.

Marc Geller, a spokesperson for the Electric Vehicle Association, argues that EV drivers don’t have any more to fear than drivers of gas-powered cars.

“Wildfires are a big problem, and they are going to be a problem whether you have a gasoline-powered car or an electric car … Most people with electric cars would not ordinarily be charging their car at the time when the Flex Alert is happening,” Geller explained.

Geller added that there’s an easy solution for those who are worried about charging during a Flex Alert: plug your vehicle in between midnight and 7 a.m., when electricity is cheaper than peak times and there’s less demand on the state’s power grid.

“Make sure your battery is charged up in the middle of the night when you’re sleeping,” he said.

Geller added that infrastructure for EVs is growing and should be able to handle the increased number of vehicles in 2035.

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