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A surge of electric vehicles may test Virginia’s grid

A hand is grabbing the black handle of a charging station for electric vehicles.
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VPM News Focal Point
A federal push for more electric vehicles could put a strain on Virginia’s electric grid.

The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing car manufacturers to produce more electric vehicles. By 2032 they hope two-thirds of all car sold will be electric, but Virginia’s electric cooperatives worry the state’s infrastructure can’t support the increased energy usage.


ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: Employees at Rappahannock Electric Cooperative can park and plug in when they arrive, filling up on electricity while they work. Powering electric vehicles is one part of an effort to emphasize clean, environmentally friendly energy for its membership. They say the future is in electric and they expect many more EVs to hit the road in their service area.

JOHN HEWA: And our projections for the year 2030 indicate that on the low, we could have around 16,000 electric vehicles. On the high end of that scale, it could be over 93,000 electric vehicles.

ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: EVs can save drivers money on fuel, but will carry a heavy upfront cost for electric providers.

JOHN HEWA (President & CEO, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative): On the one hand, there's tremendous opportunity for our member-owners, the ability for them to lower their fuel cost and to save money at their household or business. On the other hand, we're also very careful and somewhat concerned about the impacts to the grid.

ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: To decrease pressures on the electric grid, the Rappahannock Electric co-op launched Virginia's first EV specific rate to encourage off peak hour charging. On the more rural roads of Virginia's northern neck, they're also preparing for EVs.

KYLE ALLWINE (Public relations manager, Northern Neck Electric Co-op): Our membership is made up of watermen and farmers and families and they have very unique and different requirements for driving than someone in a city or suburban area. We're going to design an EV infrastructure and charging network that meets those unique needs.

ADRIENNE MCGIBBON: The Northern Neck Electric Cooperative worries its current infrastructure can't support a massive increase of electricity usage.

KYLE ALLWINE: There is a risk of rolling outages here in Virginia and what I would say is the cause of that risk is that we have an increasing amount of demand, of need for electricity.

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