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Electric cars’ impact on grid

 September 19, 2022 at 5:00 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Debbie Cruz….it’s Monday, September 19th.

Is there enough electricity for the statewide electric car mandate? More on that next. But first... let’s do the headlines….

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Governor Gavin Newsom signed a package of climate bills FRIDAY.

The new laws are meant to speed up phasing-out fossil fuels and ramping up clean energy development.

Asked about the recent heatwave and strains on the state’s power grid, Newsom said the state is in the process of increasing its energy production and storage capacity.

The governor also touted nearly 54-billion-dollars in spending to deploy new renewable energy and carbon capture technology around the state.

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San Diego County prosecutors are not filing sexual assault charges against Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party.

Last spring an ex-boyfriend filed a police report saying Rodriguez-Kennedy had sex with him while he was intoxicated and incapable of consent.

Rodriguez-Kennedy denies those claims.

He's been on leave from his position as party chairman since May.

It's unclear when or if he'll return to that position.

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There was a slight increase in the unemployment rate in San Diego County, between July and August.

The August rate was three-point-four-percent, compared to three-point-one percent in July.

Last month's unemployment rate was still considerably less than August last year. .

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From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

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California is poised to add millions of electric cars to local roads in the next decade, but is there enough electricity to fuel them?

KPBS Environment reporter Erik Anderson looks at whether the grid can handle the load.

(car sound) The gentle hum of electric vehicles could soon overtake the rumble of internal combustion engines in California.  Clean air regulators say all new cars sold in the state will be electric or zero emission by 20-35.  But California’s relationship with the power grid is fraught with uncertainty. A fact  highlighted by a late summer heat wave. “Between now and next Wednesday we’re going to be experiencing a prolonged heat moment.” Governor Gavin Newsom’s calls for conservation were answered, and the threat of rolling blackouts was averted.  But Newsom was roasted on social media after power grid officials asked residents not to charge their E-V’s during the evening.  That came just a week after the state announced the 20-35 ban on the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines.   Still, California remains committed to shrinking its carbon footprint as a way to avoid more intense wildfires and drought, hallmarks of climate change. “We need to eliminate emissions from the California economy.” David Victor is an energy policy researcher at U-C San Diego. “The biggest source of emissions right now, 41 percent of emissions come from transportation.  So you’ve got to tackle that.  The leading solution, not the only solution, the leading solution is electrifying.  Especially electrifying cars.” Victor says no one wants the electric grid to become less reliable and he says there’s time for the state to absorb the coming demand. He says EV’s are arriving in the midst of an energy transition.  Solar and wind are rising in prominence, but that also calls for more energy storage capacity. And the grid will have to be built up to account for the extra draw from EV’s. “Pretty much every study shows there’s going to be a significant increase in the demand for electricity in California as a result of this.  I think many of the studies suggest that light duty vehicles alone, cars, they are going to be responsible for a one quarter increase in the demand for electricity between now and 2045.” And while millions of new EV’s will be feeding off the electric grid in coming years, the change isn’t immediate.  San Diego Gas and Electric  representatives  say they can handle the demand for more power as more EV’s hit the road. “The short answer to that is yes.” Jeni Reynolds is San Diego Gas and Electric’s director of clean transportation. “The long answer is much more complicated.  And so, when you start getting into the specifics of when that load’s going to hit, how it’s going to hit, what new technology and what type of battery storage we have to help.  You know, that’s a much more complex answer.” Reynolds says the utility can build the required power lines and transformers, that’s what utilities do, but the company also needs to build understanding among its EV customers.  Right now, energy usage peaks between four and nine pm. The utility wants EV charging to happen during the day, or overnight. “If we can get a lot of the charging in those times, then the build out isn’t going to be as much.  So we have capacity that’s there.  It’s about how to incentivize customers to use that capacity.  Then it’s also the new technology like vehicle to grid and how we as consumers are going to own our energy transition.” Vehicle to grid is an emerging technology being tested in the Cajon Valley School district. Electric buses can feed power in their batteries back to the grid for a premium price when electricity is in short supply.  EV’s could become a huge reservoir of stored energy.  But U-C San Diego’s Jan Kliessl says that tech isn’t quite ready yet. “So the devil is really in the details of the inverter technology not becoming to expensive to make it not worth the customer’s while.  And the battery manufacturer, in this case the vehicle manufacturer agreeing that this is something they would cover under the warranty.” Kliessl says developing ways to manage the power demand from millions of household devices, and EV’s, will keep the grid reliable. “Computer systems can help us to manage things better like scheduling.  But still, you don’t make the load go away.  You just shift it.” Shifting the load, shifting people’s habit’s and shifting the power supply to renewables while adding capacity to the grid are keys to making sure the flood of EVs don’t swamp a power grid that is already feeling its limitations. Erik Anderson KPBS News

San Diego-based EnergySource Minerals is licensing its Lithium mining technology to a company, operating on the Great Salt Lake.

EnergySource says it’s a step toward creating an American industry that will meet the soaring demand for lithium batteries in electric cars.

KPBS Science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has more.

The future of battery-powered cars depends on lithium. And now EnergySource has partnered with Compass Minerals to extract the metal from supplies of brine water in Utah. EnergySource mines Lithium by running the salty brine through a filter that absorbs the metal, and that’s the technology they plan to deploy at a plant being built along the Salton Sea. Eric Spomer, CEO of EnergySource, says working with Compass, a possible competitor, is necessary to meet the need for lithium for electric vehicles. I think we’re all trying to support each other to support this EV revolution that is coming. The demand is just huge. He says EnergySource plans to capture underground brine water, near the Salton Sea, and pump it back down after lithium is taken from it. He says that’s much better for the environment than evaporation ponds or open-pit mines. This will be the cleanest Lithium in the world. From every measure. Water  use, land use, emissions. It doesn't get any cleaner than this. Spomer says he expects his company’s facility will ultimately mine 20,000 tons of Lithium per year. Thomas Fudge, KPBS news.

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A group of migrants locked up in the Imperial Regional Detention Center filed a federal complaint alleging medical negligence, retaliatory use of solitary confinement, and civil rights violations.

KPBS border reporter Gustavo Solis talked to one of the men who decided to speak out.

For five months, Donald Varela Fernandez  told medical staff at the Imperial County detention center that he had severe pain in his hips, back, shoulder and joints. When Fernandez was finally taken to a hospital in El Centro, doctors told him he needed emergency back surgery. After the surgery, staff at the detention center took away instructions doctors had given Fernandez as part of his recovery. “They took everything away and they send me to medical section to solitary two days there and then they sent me to what they call Alpha to solitary again for another nine days.” PJ Podesta is with the Innovation Law Lab, one of several organizations who helped file the complaint against Immigration Customs Enforcement, or ICE, and MTC, the private company that operates the detention center. “We would like the oversight agencies to do a really thorough investigation, to not let the private contractors not let ICE evade scrutiny.”ICE did not respond to questions about the complaint. MTC issued a statement saying the company is committed to following best practices. Gustavo Solis KPBS News

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A recent KPBS investigation revealed an El Cajon nursing home is still operating despite hundreds of complaints and instances of abuse..

So how do families know which facility is right for their loved ones?

Advocates say people have to do their homework and visit the facilities before agreeing to stay there.

Tony Chicotel is a senior staff attorney with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform.

He says facilities must ensure residents are comfortable and have their needs met.

“That’s what nursing homes are paid to do and what’s a lot of them fail to do. What we talk about all the time with resident care, residents that are feeling safe, comfortable and secure they don't get violent. It’s usually when they have unmet needs and are feeling frustrated and angry is when things get troublesome.”

A KPBS investigation found nearly 630 complaints at Avocado post acute since 2019.

State investigations revealed a resident was sexually assaulted by her caregiver in 2019 and just a year ago a man was allegedly strangled to death by his roommate.

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Coming up.... A new study shows a greater risk of death for cancer patients facing housing instability. We’ll have that story and more, next, just after the break.

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The U-C San Diego school of medicine has found that of many social and economic risk factors, housing insecurity was the one most strongly linked to death among cancer patients.

KPBS science and technology reporter Thomas Fudge has more.

The study examined more than 12 hundred cancer patients. Among those who experience social and financial difficulties, housing insecurity was the primary driver of mortality. Study co-author Matthew Banegas is director of the Center for Health Equity Education and Research at UC San Diego.What this shows is that, compared to people who do not have housing instability, those who do had a greater, about a two fold, greater risk of mortality or death, when we also account for these other risk factors and other demographic characteristics. The other risk factors considered were financial hardship, food insecurity and transportation problems. Bonegas said the study did not answer the question of why housing instability was most likely to lead to death, among cancer patients. But he said having inadequate housing is a multi-faceted problem, ranging from having no shelter to having no Internet or access to water and power. SOQ.

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"Come Fall in Love: the D-D-L-J Musical" is the next big Broadway-bound show getting its roots in San Diego.

It's an adaptation of a beloved 19-95 Hindi-language rom-com musical known widely by its initials D-D-L-J.

It's the story of Simran, who is a young Indian-American woman with an arranged marriage awaiting her in India.

Before she goes through with it, she sets out on a summer trip across Europe, where she meets someone else.

The stage adaptation is by prolific Broadway lyricist Nell Benjamin, and the Mumbai-based musical duo known as Vishal and Shey-khar, who wrote new music for the play.

Vishal and Sheykhar spoke with KPBS Arts producer Julia Dixon Evans.

Here's their conversation.

Before we dig into your role, can you give our listeners a sense of the story, and why this original film has been so enduring and so beloved? 

Sheykhar What's your own background with the original film? Had you grown up watching it? And how did that shape your approach to penning new music?

Vishal, what are some elements or songs that have been maintained from the original movie?

Vishal, and on the flip-side, what are the biggest things that have changed in this adaptation?

That was Vishal and Shekhar speaking with KPBS Arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans.

"Come Fall in Love: The D-D-L-J Musical" will be on stage at The Old Globe through October 16th.

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That’s it for the podcast today. As always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Debbie Cruz. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

A look at whether the grid can handle California adding millions of electric cars. In other news, a group of migrants locked up in the Imperial Regional Detention Center filed a federal complaint alleging medical negligence, retaliatory use of solitary confinement and more. Plus, a UC San Diego study shows greater mortality risk for cancer patients facing housing instability.