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Can Utah’s Power Grid Keep Up With The Growth Of Electric Vehicles?

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As more electric vehicles (EVs) hit the road, the demand for electricity grows.

It’s a concern for electric vehicle charging analysts like Casey Donahue, founder and CEO of Optiwatt.

“Our current network infrastructure is going to be under a lot of stress with the coming online of the next electric vehicles,” said Donahue.

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) estimates that about 3% of cars in Utah are electric right now and that number is only expected to increase.

It comes as President Biden set the goal that electric vehicles will account for 50% of all vehicle sales by 2030.

James Campbell, director of innovation and sustainability policy at RMP, said Utah’s current electricity grid can only support 50% of electric vehicle adoption.

“We did a study with the University of Utah where we asked them to examine the types of impacts that increased adoption of electric vehicles would have on our existing infrastructure to serve these residential neighborhoods,” said Campbell. .

If it crosses the 50% threshold, Campbell believes changes will need to be made to our state’s infrastructure and consumer charging habits.

Cambell said: “We have enough capacity, but we just want to make sure people don’t just plug in when you get home from work to increase peak load hours.”

One app, in particular, can help.

It’s called Optiwatt and it’s free to download for Apple and Android devices.

“We’re actually going to optimize their Tesla or electric vehicle to charge at off-peak rates, so we’ll save them money by optimizing that control,” said the founder and CEO of Optiwatt.

When it comes to traveling long distances, Utah has 22 direct current (DC) fast charger slots.

15 of them are Tesla Supercharger locations.

While there are many electric vehicle chargers in this condition, fast chargers reduce your commute time.

You might be wondering, “How will I know when to charge the car?” “

When you enter a destination, the car will calculate how much battery you need to get to each point and recommend charging stops to make sure you reach your destination.

Cost is another reason more people are switching to electricity.

Donahue told Fox 13 News that Optiwatt users saved around $ 14.5 million in gas in the United States in 2021 alone.

We’ve tracked how much money you would have to pay to charge your vehicle on a road trip from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas, which is roughly 420 miles.

According to our calculations, it cost $ 38.82.

That includes three stops along the way in Nephi, Beaver, and Mesquite, Nevada, and just over an hour of charging time in total.

For comparison, it would cost around $ 63 in a gasoline vehicle.

Rocky Mountain Power has announced plans to add 20 more fast chargers in the near future to expand access to more destinations in Utah.

Campbell said, “We have to start filling the national highways so that these destinations, where the Utahns want to go. We actually have the capacity and the charging infrastructure to get them there, and Vernal is one of those examples; a location in which there is insufficient infrastructure. “

RMP also believes that the charging technology will change over time and that there will be less need for what they call “the gas station model”.

“We are now working in partnership with Utah State University to determine if we are putting in place a charging infrastructure,” Campbell said.

RMP said he sees this as an opportunity for heavy vehicles, especially in the Utah Inner Port.

Rocky Mountain Power said it got grants from the Department of Energy earlier that have helped move some EV infrastructure upgrades to date.

They also told Fox 13 News that Utah is expected to get $ 36 million under the infrastructure bill passed in November 2021.

“I would say what the infrastructure bill can do is move these plans forward, but it’s not really going to change them significantly,” Campbell said.

You can read more about how much EVs can help you save, where to charge a vehicle, and the incentives RMP offers here.