Understanding the changing power grid, and that the power comes from us

Jul 30, 2022, 8:00 AM | Updated: Aug 3, 2022, 12:59 pm
massie grid EV...
FILE: "Every single house and EV turns into a little local power plant," said a texter to KSL NewsRadio. (Hans Koepsell, Deseret News)
(Hans Koepsell, Deseret News)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Earlier this week, KSL NewsRadio’s Boyd Matheson, host of Inside Sources, joined us on Utah’s Morning News to talk about the Biden administration’s call for 50% of all car sales to be electric by the year 2030.

The question Boyd posed, based in part on an interchange between the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Republican Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, is whether the electric grid will be able to handle it if that goal is reached.

Rep. Massie is an interesting person. He is an MIT engineering graduate. He lives off the grid on solar panels and a Tesla battery. He went through the details of how much power it takes to run an electric vehicle with Secretary Buttigieg in a congressional hearing .

As the congressman explained, it takes about the same amount of electricity to power an EV as it takes to run 25 refrigerators. If you have two electric vehicles (EVs), that would be 50 refrigerators, on top of your regular electricity needs.

On the power grid, “hope is not a strategy”

As Boyd described their conversation, “Secretary Buttigieg  just kept coming back with ‘We need to,’ ‘We have to,’ ‘We want to,’ and didn’t lay out any plans in terms of ‘This is what we WILL do.'”

Their conversation during the hearing was described by others as “Thomas Massie schools Pete Buttigieg on electric vehicles.”

While we were having this conversation on KSL NewsRadio, we received a text from Cameron Laubisch, a solar engineer.

“Massie is correct that this is a problem if you keep using conventional thinking,” Laubisch said.

“Traditionally, a power plant makes power, and that power is distributed through the grid out to whoever needs it. As demand increases, we need to add more power plants, but also throw up thicker wires and bigger transformers and fuses on the poles to carry the extra power,” he explained.

“This costs a huge amount of money, and power companies are generally not willing to adopt.”

As I read Laubisch’s explanation, I felt the “but” coming.

“Every house and EV is a little local power plant”

With the new solar and EV technology, “every single house and EV turns into a little local power plant,” Laubisch said. “Let’s say I put enough solar on a roof to offset their power bill 100% (which is typical). If having an EV doubles the average household consumption, but I already dropped it to 0 with the solar, then adding an EV is a net change of 0 compared to what the house was before solar.”

“Therefore,” he continued, “not a single thing needs to be done to the grid, as long as we are installing solar at a rate that keeps up (which the solar industry is doing) and people are using EVs.”

Laubisch had even more encouraging news on this point.

“The benefits get even better when you allow houses to install more than 100% offset, and people buy EVs with V2G\V2L (vehicle to grid and vehicle to load) capabilities.”

“Now, instead of the average house being a net consumer, they can be net exporters. The grid doesn’t care which direction electricity is flowing, it just cares how much electricity is flowing.”

“In practice, every house can export 100% of their consumption, and the grid will be OK,” said Laubisch.

“We already have the technology”

So, according to Laubisch, we have the technology. The incentives for solar and EVs are already in place. The new climate change agreement between Sen. Manchin and Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer contains new incentives regarding solar and EV purchases for Americans.

My overall impression after reading the text and email messages is that nothing has to be done to “the grid” in the traditional sense.  Laubisch said he was surprised that Rep. Massie didn’t know that, since he is, in fact, a living example of exactly how this is done — living as he is on solar and EV power.

Perhaps going forward, the main thing that needs to change, in addition to our sources of power, is our antiquated way of thinking about the grid and where power comes from. It comes from all of us, to a larger and larger degree.

Related reading:


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Science + Technology

FILE - This Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo shows application icons from left, Facebook, Facebook...

Surgeon General says 13 is ‘too early’ to join social media

(CNN) — U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he believes 13 is too young for children to be on social media platforms because although sites allow children of that age to join, kids are still “developing their identity.” Meta, Twitter, and a host of other social media giants currently allow 13-year-olds to join their platforms. […]
1 day ago
artificial intelligence banjo...
Curt Gresseth

ChatGPT: Plagiarism super-tool for students or AI brainstorming generator?

Will the future of AI be the interactive chatbot ChatGPT helping cheaters ace exams and tests or a new tool to assist all students in learning?
5 days ago
Curt Gresseth

Banks to launch app to compete with Apple Pay and Venmo

Banks are launching a new app for online money transfers that customers can trust to protect their finances.
6 days ago
Earth core structure. Elements of this image furnished by NASA (Adobe stock)...
Lianne Kolirin, CNN

Earth’s inner core may have stopped turning and could go into reverse, study suggests

With a radius of almost 2,200 miles, Earth's core is about the size of Mars. It consists mostly of iron and nickel, and contains about about one-third of Earth's mass.
6 days ago
During a recent excursion to the icy plains of Antarctica, an international team of researchers dis...
Jackie Wattles, CNN

Rare 17-pound meteorite, one of the largest ever, discovered in Antarctica

The meteorite is about the size of a cantaloupe but weighs 17 pounds. It's one of about 100 that size discovered in Antarctica.
6 days ago
SafeUT app...
Elizabeth Weiler

SafeUT app helps save 14-year-old from kidnapper

SafeUT, the app that was designed for Utahns to instantly receive help, is proving successful after an incident over the weekend. 
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Understanding the changing power grid, and that the power comes from us