Electric Road Trip — Week 5: Range anxiety in a blizzard, coal-fueled EVs

Electric Road Trip — Week 5: Range anxiety in a blizzard, coal-fueled EVs

Hey there I’m David Faris with E&E News
and the Electric Road Trip and I’m Pete Behr who’s taking over the trip from
David. David you’ve been on the car five days now starting in Minneapolis and you
got out to Billings Through the EV desert of North Dakota.
What’s this week been like for you? Yea well it’s been it’s been a crazy week I
mean you handed the car back to me back in Minneapolis, so it’s kind of a nice
bookend to have you taking it back now. Thanks for the weather. -laughs- Yeah I mean as
you can see this there’s some snow. So we hear a lot about range anxiety with
EVs did you ever get into range fear Range terror where you say am I going to
get there or not? -laughs- I absolutely experienced Range terror it happened not
long after I left you. I left too confidently from Minneapolis and I
realized too late that I had not left Myself enough battery to get there and
so I ended up just barely easing off the freeway with only four miles of range
left. The dash indicators were flashing at me you know. Find a charging station
right now battery almost empty. DEFCON 3! DEFCON 3 exactly and so I
finally cruised into one of the only places in town to charge which was a
brewery, Fergus brewery and you know if if you’re gonna have to
spend several hours charging somewhere it might as well be at a brewery. So that
was tough. So you met some of the EV owners in the state am i right? I did in in Dickinson which is on the western side of the state.
I met with the biggest cluster of Tesla enthusiasts. That’s not a large group. I’m
in a state with only a hundred and forty four EVs. Maybe a hundred of those our
Teslas and there are six Teslas in the whole city. I met all but- I met I met
four of the six. The politics of EVs in North Dakota are far
more surprising and fluid than I Expected them to be. When I was in
Bismarck I charged my car overnight at the Lignite Energy Council, which is the- It’s not the
first place should have looked for a charging station. No no no you wouldn’t
it said lignite it means coal it’s a kind of coal that they produce in North
Dakota and it’s Lignite Energy Council is the biggest coal advocacy group in
the state. North Dakota is a very energy rich state and you can see that even if
you’re driving on Interstate 94 like I did all the way across the state you
know I stopped and I visited a wind farm these big giant towers out in the middle
of the stark no where wind buffeting the plain and then drive just another maybe
75 miles down the road and there are the oil pump jacks the coal industry in
North Dakota is threatened by the wind because it is cutting into the demand
for coal and the Lignite Energy Council and coal advocates are making the bet
that EVs will raise demand for electricity which will create a market
for North Dakota coal even as coal falls on hard times around the country. So you
had a tough ride through the snow to get into Billings. Yeah. Tell me about that.
Yeah I mean I thought I was out of North Dakota and I thought that I’d been
through the worst of it and then this as I left Miles City Montana City Montana
to get here to Billings Montana, drove right into a snowstorm and it was I’d
never driven an electric vehicle in the snow But the additional challenge with an EV is that keeping the heat on, you know not not even for
yourself, you can bundle up by keeping the heat on in order to keep your
windshield clear requires energy from that battery that you’re relying to get
from A to B, and so I was I was really stressed out during that leg that I like
I needed to get there safely but I actually also just needed to get there,
and that’s one of the challenges one of the things you learn with EVs and in
this in this particular week with the distances in North Dakota and the snow
we had, I feel like kind of the elements threw everything they had at us
during this leg of the trip. Well you made it. Made it! And now we’re gonna have
another investigation of what the elements offer. Yeah right and so this through
the right is exactly it so this week this week Pete and his wife Marty
who hopefully you’ll get to meet early see on a camera shot somewhere, are
heading through the Rockies and and then about Seattle time about a week from now
we’re gonna pass this back off again right? That’s the plan.
Okay great well Pete best of luck on your next journey okay
and see you on the next leg of the journey. Thanks for getting us this far.

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  1. Natural gas threatens more than wind right now. The catch 22 is the natural gas is coming from the oil exploration/extraction. So it was a fossil fuel support of oil extraction that's hurting the coal mines and coal power plants ability to make a profit. The over supply of natural gas vs demand is why capturing it was not a priority at all during the start of the oil boom. Even now the oil producers fight it, and they don't have to pay anything to the land owner for the flared gas that is wasted.

    Great job on the trip! Anytime any EVs want to pop into ND, especially Dickinson, the ND Tesla owners (find us by our Facebook group) will be happy to take care of your charging needs, or simply join you for lunch, dinner, or a drink!

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