Idaho Power Preps for Future
by Jacqueline Quynh
BOISE -- Electric cars aren't just coming to the Treasure Valley, they're here. As automakers continue to release more plug-in models, Idaho Power is readying its infrastructure for the challenges these vehicles pose to the state's power grid. What's more, Idaho Power says Idaho is currently behind other states with electric vehicle (EV) adoption.
How charging stations impact the power grid
Ron Bovee is an electric car specialist at the Edmark Chevrolet in Nampa. He says many people are interested in electric cars, but some don't think they're as reliable as a gas car because they need continual charging, and that leads to anxiety.
"Range anxiety -- range anxiety, is where people think they've got a certain amount of range on the product," said Bovee, who told KTVB many of his customers say they'd like to see more charging stations in the area -- even if they drive models that can also be powered by gasoline like a Chevy Volt.
"The charging stations are necessary to have in the city because more people will drive short range in the city," said Bovee
However, before charging stations become commonplace (they aren't now), utility companies like Idaho Power have to figure out what kind of an impact they will have on the power grid. Ken McCarthy is an engineer studying the issue.
"We do have a little bit of concern of vehicles maybe clustering in a neighborhood, and overloading the service transformer feeding into homes, and that's part of our test program to see if there is a potential for that," McCarthy said. Idaho power adopting electric fleet vehicles
Idaho Power is now testing three new electric vehicles as part of their service fleet. They've installed so-called "smart meters" that record energy consumption data at their charging stations to monitor how much power the cars use. The company is also launching a smart meter program for consumers this month. They will be asking electric car owners to allow the company to install smart meters at their home charging stations as well. The hope is to better measure the electricity needs for these vehicles, and in turn, prepare the Treasure Valley grid for future electric vehicles. You can sign up and learn more about the electric vehicle program through the Idaho Power Company website.
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