California warns of possible summer power outages as electricity runs low
California energy officials have warned that the state could be at risk of blackouts over the next three summers due to power shortages and extreme weather.
The state could be short of about 1,700 megawatts this summer — enough power for about 1.3 million homes — and that gap could widen to about 1,800 megawatts by 2025, officials said Friday during of a call to the media.
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These forecasts do not include other factors such as extreme regional heat waves or wildfires that can bring down power lines, they said.
“We continue to see climate change conditions having an unprecedented impact on our energy system,” said California Public Utilities Commission Chair Alice Reynolds. “We know reliability is going to be difficult in this time of transition.”
The energy shortage projections come a week after California Governor Gavin Newsom said he would support extending the life of the state’s only remaining nuclear plant to ensure it there are enough energy resources to maintain reliability while transitioning to a carbon-free grid.
California has struggled to keep the lights on for the past two summers, with grid operators imposing brief rolling outages in 2020 during an extreme regional heat wave that overwhelmed the grid.
Officials warned of potential shortages last summer, though the state avoided having to impose outages after Newsom declared a grid emergency, which freed up additional power resources.
The biggest challenge for the power system is during warm late summer and early fall evenings, when solar generation drops after sunset while air conditioning demand remains high, he said. Mark Rothleder, COO of the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s mainnet.
To fill the supply gap, California officials have ordered utilities to buy thousands of megawatts of new supplies, including batteries, which can absorb excess solar power during the day and then release energy. energy in the evening when the network is most in demand.
Still, global supply chain challenges and other issues have delayed about 600 megawatts of new clean energy projects this year, said Siva Gunda, vice chairman of the California Energy Commission.
The drought has also reduced output from the state’s hydroelectric dams, officials said.
California has a number of measures in place to address potential energy shortages this summer, including a new program that will pay customers to reduce energy use during times of high demand, Reynolds said. of the California Public Utilities Commission.
“We are in a better position than we were last year,” she said. “But we also know that we could see worse conditions than last year, so we have to be prepared.”
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