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California Wants Residents to Limit EV Charging Over Labor Day Weekend

Record high temperatures are expected to put additional strain on the state's power grid.

2022 Chevy Bolt EUV charging
Charging your Chevy Bolt after 9 p.m. is fine, just don't do it during peak hours.

Greetings from California, where it's currently hot as hell. So hot, in fact, that the state issued a Flex Alert on Wednesday asking residents to conserve energy when possible to avoid putting extra pressure on California's already strained power grid. That means limiting the use of air conditioning and not running major appliances during peak hours. But the state is also requesting cooperation with another ask: Don't charge your electric vehicle.

In its bulletin, the California Independent System Operator specifically asks residents to "avoid charging electric vehicles while the Flex Alert is in effect." The ISO says drivers should charge their cars before 4 p.m., at which point "conservation begins to become most critical."

The ISO "manages the flow of electricity across the high-voltage, long-distance transmission lines delivering power to the state's three investor-owned utilities," according to the organization's website. An initial Flex Alert was issued on Wednesday, Aug. 31, but the ISO extended it to Friday, Sept. 2, and says more could happen throughout Labor Day weekend. "With excessive heat in the forecast across much of the state and Western US, the grid operator is again expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use, and is calling for the public to conserve as much electricity as possible from 4 to 9 p.m.," the organization said in its statement.

This announcement comes on the heels of California banning the sale of internal-combustion cars by 2035. Sure, a charging restriction might seem hypocritical in the wake of the ban on fossil fuel vehicles, but a strategic power conservation plan for this weekend and a shift to EV-only sales 13 years from now aren't totally related.

"In what's likely to be the most extensive heat wave so far in the west this year, temperatures in Northern California are expected to be 10-20 degrees warmer than normal through Tuesday, Sept. 6," the ISO said. "In Southern California, temperatures are expected to be 10-18 degrees warmer than normal." Stay cool out there, friends.

Originally published Sept. 1.