Here’s why that photo and caption showing a Tesla being charged by a gas generator is just a troll tweet.

Earlier this week a photo of a Tesla Model Y with California plates being charged by a gas generator went viral on social media. Above the photo is the caption, “California: You need a gas generator to charge your $120K electric super car because the grid is overloaded. You gotta love the irony.”

This is probably the oldest and most viral instance of that photo.

California, like most of the Southwest, is going through a historic heat wave with multiple days of temps well above 100F.

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As such, California’s energy grid, especially during the hours of peak heat, is being put to the test as literally millions of California households (14M houses, 75 percent of them with ACs) ramp up their air conditioning units at the same time.

What this photo is trying to do is elicit an Anti-California, anti-renewable energy, and anti-electric car emotional response out of whoever comes across it?

But, is any of the photo and caption actually true?

Here’s what I found out.

First, I could not locate the photo origin or why this owner decided to charge his Tesla Model Y with a generator. It’s possible their Tesla is indeed dead and he needed a portable generator to power it up and charge it.

So yes, point taken whoever wrote the caption.

When your electric car runs out of charge, even in the liberal state of California with a bunch of renewable energy, you still have to rely on dirty dino juice to power up a gas generator to charge your so-called environmentally friendly electric car.

Checkmate Commiefornia.

But, did the grid overload this week? Even as temps in some California cities touched 116F?

While California’s grid was absolutely put to the test, with California ISO resorting to ramping up back-up generators built specifically for weeks like this one, California’s electrical grid held strong, narrowly avoiding resorting to rolling blackouts.

What demand for energy looked like on Tuesday Sept 6, 2022.

California ISO pulled out every trick in the book with several demand response events including the aforementioned back-up generators, texting out an emergency flex alerts, and remotely powering down end users who volunteered to have devices and facilities powered down during peak demand periods.

In fact, on Tuesday, California broke a electricity demand record.

To make clear, the grid did not overload.

While it’s true that thousands of Californians did suffer from power outages that day, according to USA Today,

“Residents across Northern California were in the dark Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, according to Pacific Gas & Electric. The incident was spurred due to a miscommunication and led to power being cut by mistake to customers in several cities.”

But, by and large, even if you were cautioned not to set thermostats past 78F or use major appliances between 4-9 P.M., if you wanted to charge your EV, you technically could.

No one would stop you.

But, what about $120,000? Are Californians really paying that much for their Teslas?

Whoever made that caption probably confused what’s shown, a Tesla Model Y, with the much larger, more expensive Tesla Model X.

Yes, Model X’s are around $120,000 before fees and markups.

Tesla Model Y’s are much cheaper at around $60,000.

The more popular Model 3’s are even cheaper at around $50,000.

And by no means are most Teslas supercars.

Except for the top of the line Tesla Model S’s and the yet to be released Tesla Roadster 2.0, most Teslas are just regular cars, crossovers, and SUVs that happen to be extremely fast…and electric.

Conclusion

This tweet was supposed to be a slam dunk that, despite California’s push towards renewables, you’ll never become detached from dirty oil.

For the moment, that’s true, most of California’s grid relies on natural gas. That’s especially true when the sun goes down.

If the United States is to become energy independent we have to try, where we can, to focus more on renewables, and that’s what California is doing.

When the solar is strongest, even I’m surprised with how much renewables adds to our grid, supplying almost a third of electricity.

What our energy mix looks with renewables at its peak.

Even when pushed to its limits earlier this week, our grid survived with room (however small) to spare.

Even in this arguably beginning stage, in the grand scheme of renewables + natural gas period of energy production, California’s grid reliably supplied power to 40M Californians.

It’s worth noting California’s grid is only truly strained like this a handful of days a year when temps soar past 100 for several days in a row.

As more renewables are added and the grid improves, our electric supply will become less reliant on natural gas, the grid ever more resilient.

10 years from now (or less) that “meme” tweet of sorts will be shown as it truly is, short sighted.

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3 COMMENTS

  1. There is a lot of copium here, yes the car may not be $120k but could be easily pushing $100k before the tax incentives that are offered and may not have been when they purchased the vehicle. Also the grid just so happening to go offline from a communication mistake is complete BS. I worked in sales for many years and our higher ups always would lie to the customers to keep people happy. They had to use emergency generators to keep up with the demand and with the bigger push with EVs and such a small time frame will put more and more strain on the infrastructure that needs to be updated and outfitted to hold up to demand and the future. I am very bullish on technology and EV’s but you cannot just say you need to buy and EV when the power needs to come from somewhere and also should be done at a slower pace to alleviate the headaches that will be unfolding over the next 10 years.

  2. I like the ending, this tweet will seem short sighted in 10 years. Lmao you do realize that Commiefornia will have a ban on all gas powered engines and coal power plants by then and then only the rich will have cars and the grid will be as bad as it is in Europe. If every household had an EV or 2 it’s equivalent to having an extra 20 refrigerators plugged in. How is that gonna work with a grid that’s already having major.problems right now with just a fraction of EVs on it ? In 10 years it’ll be way worse except gas powered generators will be illegal lmao.

  3. @Andrew G – You have things backwards, you need to speed up the pace, not slow down the pace, otherwise you will end up with a gap that is the cause of problems

    @Jimmycrackorn – That is false, CA is not banning all gas powered engines. What CA is banning is NEW sales of conventional ICE cars. That means, plugin hybrids which have gas engines are still allowed. And so will used cars.
    The grid is failing in Europe because of fossil fuels being unreliable. That is because fossil fuel industry and Putin have derailed the renewable energy investments in Europe in 2011. If Europe continued to invest as much as they did back then, Europe and the world wouldn’t even be having and energy crises.

    And your 20 fridge thing makes no sense. A typical EV would use up about same amount of energy in a year as a single old fridge. If we compare to new fridges, then about 5. That said, you will also see some decrease as you need far less electricity to refine gasoline.

    The grid is only having trouble during peaks, not offpeaks when EVs charge

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