Will the electric grid support all our newly-electrified homes and cars?

One of the most common questions we get is: can our grid support all this electrification? The answer is yes!

This article provides a great breakdown that explains how electrification will help our grid and actually lower utility costs for Californians.

California’s grid is primed to support the transition of buildings from using gas to employing clean electricity. In fact, these new electric loads can put downward pressure on utility bills for all Californians.

Electrifying helps our grid become more reliable and affordable in three ways:
  1. Electric holiday homeSmoothing out demand throughout the year
  2. Shifting day-to-day demand away from peak hours
  3. Lowering electricity costs by fully using existing infrastructure

We cover each of these points in more depth below.

Smoothing out demand throughout the year

Our grid is built to provide enough capacity for our peak demand, which is driven by running AC on hot summer days.

The major gas devices we're replacing with electric appliances are furnaces and hot water heaters. These devices mainly use electricity in winter, when grid demand is significantly lower than summertime.
The result of electrifying these appliances is that wintertime electrical demand will shift upwards, (the dotted blue line) but it'll still be well below peak summer demand; meaning it's still well under the grid's capacity.

Shifting day-to-day demand away from peak hours

One of the most exciting aspects of smart electric appliances like heat pump water heaters is that they can automatically turn on when electricity is plentiful and cheap, and turn off when it's expensive at peak demand.

Heat pump water heaters can store hot water for 12 hours or more, meaning they can run at midday, provide plenty of hot water for a family's needs in the evening during peak demand, and then run again in the middle of the night.

The same principle applies to charging EVs, and even somewhat to heat pump furnaces.

This type of load shifting is called demand response, and it's a key part of our strategy for creating a clean, reliable grid.

Lowering electricity costs by fully using existing infrastructure

Our electricity rates are set based on the costs of generating and delivering electricity to meet the current demand. By increasing demand without needing new infrastructure to generate more electricity, our rates will get lower over time.

Our electric costs in California have gotten more expensive mainly due to climate change fueled wildfires, not due to home electrification.

According to this study published by NRDC, by spreading utilities’ grid infrastructure costs over broader demand for electricity through building and transportation electrification, the average customer's bill in 2030 will be 16% lower than the "business-as-usual" scenario.


For more on these topics, see this this terrific post from electrification expert Dave Intner at Southern California Edison, which links to a video from the California Energy Commission.