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Talking to Students About Electric Vehicles and Energy

Tom's picture

Yesterday, Cathy and I gave a presentation on electric vehicles for high school students participating in Energy Week at Central Washington University. We started with explaining that electric vehicles should not be marketed like they are medicine, some bitter pill we should all be willing to swallow for the good of society. The truth is the opposite of that: electric vehicles are fun, convenient and inexpensive to operate. We displayed our Tesla Roadster after the talk so the students could see that electric cars are amazing, sporty, fun cars.

Students posing about Tesla Roadster at CWU

Of course, we also talked about all of the energy issues related to electric vehicles. Electric vehicles won't kill the grid because they charge mostly at night when demand is low. EVs won't cause the cost of electricity to skyrocket, in fact there's good reason to believe they will lower the cost of electricity because they give utilities the opportunity to make better use of fixed-cost assets by selling more power off-peak. We talked about the upstream emissions costs of electric vehicles, and also the upstream costs of gasoline. Gasoline doesn't just magically appear at gas stations, there are energy and emissions costs to the process of drilling, pumping, transporting, and refining oil that are comparable to the upstream costs of EVs.

The economic impact of spending a billion dollars a day on foreign oil is a pretty obvious concern to young people who will soon be looking for jobs.

We got a great reaction from the students, including requests for info on the studies that support our presentation so they could share the information with their parents.