California plug-ins pose little grid risk

"We're not the problem." That's the main message from a Southern California Edison (SCE) report about the charging habits of the utility's plug-in vehicle-driving customers. SCE serves about 180 Southern California cities and says there's little near-term risk for an increase in plug-in vehicle adoption overloading the grid. That's because about half of the plug-in drivers charge from a basic 120-volt source and that most charging is done overnight, during off-peak hours. The other good news is that range anxiety is at a minimum because 70 percent of SCE's plug-in driving customers commute less than 40 miles a day.

Of course, it's hard to worry about overload when a pretty good chunk of SCE's user base won't have access to at-home charging any time soon. While about half of SCE's customers live in apartments or condominiums, less than five percent of those multiunit structures are owned or overseen by people who'd consider adding charging stations for their residents. Still, SCE forecasts that it will have 350,000 plug-in vehicle owners in its territory by the end of the decade. Then we can start worrying about brown-outs. Maybe.