“With the rush to move to all electric vehicles, have the electric power generation companies been consulted? With all of the coal fired power plants being phased out, and no new nuclear plants coming online, will wind and solar be able to pick up the load? Worst case is we are building another bottle-neck that could raise utility rates for all of us, and make electric vehicles much more expensive.” Question from Tom’s Mailbag from the News-Gazette, February 4. 2021.

“It is a little hard to call it a ‘rush,’” said Phil Krein, a professor emeritus at the Grainger Center for Electric Machinery and Electromechanics at the University of Illinois. “The research community, transportation industry, and electric power industry have been engaged intensively on this issue over the past 25 years or so. Our regional utility, Ameren, is taking a leadership role.”
“In Illinois the growth in wind and solar electricity sources is far outpacing the growth in load from electric transportation,” Krein said. “The Federal Highway Administration’s 2016 Highway Statistics Report indicates about 10 million cars and trucks registered in Illinois. A transition of a few million of these to electrical energy is well within projected resource growth.”
“There’s plenty of generating capacity in Illinois and the Midwest to meet the demand,” he said. “And utility companies will incentivize consumers charging electric vehicles at times when power demand is lower.”
“Some will charge at night, some will charge at work. But the economic incentives will be such that it will tend to spread (demand) out,” said Krein. “They already have some of those rates in place.”
“A million (electric vehicles) is only 10 percent (of vehicles on the road in Illinois). It might get dicey when you get to 50 or 60 percent but by that time we should have our act together in many other ways as well. All the studies have shown that at 10 percent the impact on the grid is pretty minimal.”
“Illinois is better off than other states for a few reasons,” he said.
“Number one, despite their age and issues, we have a substantial nuclear power base. That’s a positive. Second is that although we don’t have the kind of wind resources that North Dakota or Nebraska have, we’ve got good wind resources and good solar resources. The other thing is that Illinois, in a sort of technical sense, is in the middle of the power grid and power flows through Illinois and we have really strong interconnections to resources. So when things go wrong we can be buying power from Tennessee and Indiana and Michigan and wherever.”

See TOM KACICH kacich@news-gazette.com from which this piece was excerpted.