Electric vehicles in a hurricane?

by Kerry Dougherty

While hurricane season technically started two months ago, it’s not until August – or even September – that most of us pay attention to those pesky tropical depressions off the coast of Africa.

My favorite board game is the annual “will we evacuate if a hurricane is heading our way” debate. The answer from my family, so far, has always been no.

There’s a reason many of us smile weakly when emergency management types talk gleefully about the “orderly evacuations” of Tidewater.

We saw traffic in the tunnels on summer weekends. We spent hours stewing in it. We also know that the only thing worse than being stuck in a flimsy house for a category 4′ rod would be spending it in a colossal traffic jam on the bridge of Willoughby Spit.

Now imagine being stuck on a spit in an electric vehicle that ran out of juice.

That’s the problem with storms. They do not file a flight plan. As meteorologists sift through the data and try to predict where these hurricanes will go, we have to make our own decisions.

By the time the weather gets scary enough to make you want to leave town, it’s too late.

Again, we weren’t seriously threatened by a category 5 hurricane. If a monstrous storm was heading our way, I guess we’d have to pack up the car and dog and head west.

Imagine for a moment Biden’s ridiculous dream of universal electric cars coming true. And there was a massive evacuation from the Outer Banks, Florida or even Tidewater.

In fact, you don’t have to imagine, one of Twitter’s most popular commenters — with an unfortunate handful and over 800,000 followers — just did it:

He may be right. Electric cars could be a nightmare during a mass evacuation. Studies have been done showing a cascading power grid failure if large numbers of Florida residents simultaneously charge their cars in anticipation of a major storm.

Owners of electric vehicles would fare even worse if left behind and without power for days or weeks.

Anyone else remember Hurricane Isabel in 2003? This storm landed in Virginia as a strong Category 1 storm. Still, some of us were without power for almost three weeks.

In a 2021 article titled “Powerless Electric Vehicles During Hurricanes,” Forbes magazine claimed that electric vehicles would make natural disaster problems worse, like Hurricane Ida that had just wiped out much of Louisiana’s electric power.

On Sept. 5, nearly a week after Hurricane Ida, 640,000 customers, or more than a quarter of Louisiana households, are still without power and unable to charge any electric vehicles they may own.

Gasoline and diesel win when natural disasters interfere with the power grid…

Natural disasters and power outages are not uncommon events. The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration tracks dozens of power outages each year. Some are minor events affecting a small number of customers for a few minutes. Others, like Hurricane Ida, affect millions of customers for days.

Any sort of weather emergency would be compounded by an abundance of electric vehicles. Do you remember last winter’s horror on I-95 when thousands of motorists, including Senator Tim Kaine, were stranded overnight in an ice and snow storm north of Richmond ? Now imagine if most of them were in electric cars. The kind that shuts off when they idle. These people would have been hypothermic in the morning. Some electric vehicles are said to have died on the highway, compounding the problems.

This push for electric vehicles is one of the most reckless campaigns ever launched by any administration. Most American families cannot afford electric cars. Hardly anyone wants to deal with the cost of replacing EV batteries. And there seems to be no thought given to what happens during weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes and ice storms that knock out the power grid.

Congratulations to everyone who has purchased an electric car. I hope you like it. As someone who almost always buys used vehicles, I expect to be driving an old-school combustion engine for the foreseeable future.

If you find yourself stranded at home with your Tesla in the aftermath of a hurricane, give me a call. I won’t come looking for you with my energy guzzler, but I will sympathize with your plight.

This column was republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Undited.

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