By Paul Stenquist
The car and electric power grew up together. At the dawn of the automotive age, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison worked in tandem on projects involving motor vehicles and the electricity that made them possible.
Soon Ford was cranking up his assembly lines, while Edison, with Ford in his employ early on, became a prime mover behind the power grid and the public utility companies that built it.
Now those utilities must not only supply the huge amounts of electricity that modern car factories consume, but also fuel the increasing number of electric vehicles coming out of them. If that electricity isn’t generated with minimal carbon emissions and at a reasonable cost, the advantages of electric cars are diminished. And because most owners charge their vehicle in the early evening when they get home from work, demand peaks can be a significant problem.
Thus, automakers and utilities are again working hand in hand to ensure a good supply of clean, inexpensive electricity — while developing strategies for charging that don’t overload circuits at peak periods — through improved efficiency, strategic charging and a greater reliance on renewable energy sources.