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The U.S. vehicle market will undergo a massive technology disruption from electric vehicles in the coming decades. Many analysts see the potential for surging sales of these efficient vehicles to enable smart grid management, but few have explored the local impact of electric vehicles: promoting energy democracy. Electric vehicles offer a natural use for solar energy, a pathway to pump more local solar power onto the grid, and a source of resilient power when the grid goes down. Ultimately, electric vehicles are another tool to miniaturize the electricity system, providing unprecedented local control.
The imminent transformation requires immediate attention to policy and planning. Electric utilities typically produce 15-year or longer “resource plans” to map out additions of new power plants and power lines that will last for decades. But electric vehicles may have an impact much sooner than the 40-year lifetime of these traditional resources, or even the 15-year timeframe of resources plans. The rising numbers of electric cars on U.S. roads may impact utility plans well within their current planning horizon. The time for action is now. Continue reading