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California's Green Dreams Mean Adding More EVs to a Rickety Grid

Despite verging on blackouts, the state wants to electrify everything — fast

Electrical transmission towers at an electrical substation in Vacaville, California.

Electrical transmission towers at an electrical substation in Vacaville, California.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
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California’s fight against global warming is on a collision course with its rickety grid. The state aims to end net greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, forcing many things that burn fossil fuels — particularly vehicles, factories and buildings — to switch to electricity. And yet California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, struggles to keep the lights on during its increasingly severe heat waves.

The state legislature recently voted to keep California’s last nuclear plant open past its planned 2025 retirement after projections showed years of tight power supplies to come. But even with the plant running, power demand will stretch the limits of supply — and that’s before millions of electric vehicles plug into the grid.