California prepares for energy shortfalls in hot, dry summer – What We Know!

California prepares for energy shortfalls in hot, dry summer

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California possible may have an vitality shortfall equal to what it takes to energy about 1.3 million houses when use is at its peak through the scorching and dry summer time months, state officers stated Friday.

Threats from drought, excessive warmth and wildfires, plus provide chain and regulatory points hampering the photo voltaic trade will create challenges for vitality reliability this summer time, the officers stated. They represented the California Public Utilities Fee, the California Power Fee, and the California Unbiased System Operator, which manages the state’s vitality grid.

State fashions assume the state may have 1,700 fewer megawatts of energy than it wants through the occasions of highest demand — sometimes early night because the solar units — within the hottest months when air conditioners are in full use.

One megawatt powers about 750 to 1,000 houses in California, based on the vitality fee. Below probably the most excessive circumstances, the shortfall may very well be far worse: 5,000 megawatts, or sufficient to energy 3.75 million houses.


“The one factor we count on is to see new and stunning situations, and we’re making an attempt to be ready for these,” stated Alice Reynolds, president of the California Public Utilities Fee, which regulates main utilities corresponding to Pacific Fuel & Electrical.

Local weather change is driving a megadrought in California, which this yr noticed the driest January by way of March on file. Final summer time the state for the primary time shut off hydropower technology on the Oroville Dam as a result of there wasn’t sufficient water. It’s up and operating once more, however the shutdown price the state 600 megawatts of energy, officers stated.

Massive hydropower tasks generated practically 14% of the state’s electrical energy in 2020, based on the impartial system operator. Renewable vitality sources, mainly photo voltaic, accounted for 34.5% and nuclear energy made up 10%.


Amid anticipated shortfalls this summer time the state — and residents — have a number of instruments to keep away from blackouts. Energy could be bought from different states and residents can decrease their use throughout peak demand, however energy shortages nonetheless are doable throughout excessive conditions, officers stated. Reynolds urged folks to think about reducing their vitality use by doing issues like cooling their houses early within the day then turning off their air conditioners when the solar goes down.

In August 2020, amid excessive warmth, the California Unbiased System Operator ordered utilities to briefly minimize energy to a whole bunch of 1000’s of consumers.

Mark Rothleder, senior vice chairman for the system operator, stated the state can be extra prone to expertise blackouts once more this yr if your complete West has a warmth wave on the identical time. That may hinder California’s potential to purchase extra energy from different states. Wildfires might additionally hinder the state’s potential to maintain the facility on, he stated.


California is within the means of transitioning its grid away from energy sources that emit greenhouse gases to carbon-free sources corresponding to photo voltaic and wind energy. As outdated energy crops put together for retirement, together with the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Energy Plant, the state has fewer vitality choices out there. By 2025, the state will lose 6,000 megawatts of energy as a result of deliberate energy plant shutdowns.

Ana Matosantos, cupboard secretary for Gov. Gavin Newsom, declined to share particulars about what different actions the administration may take to make sure reliability, solely saying Newsom was wanting a “vary of various actions.” The Democratic governor not too long ago stated he was open to holding Diablo Canyon open past its deliberate 2025 closing.

In the meantime, provide chain points attributable to the pandemic are slowing down the provision of kit wanted to face up extra solar energy programs with batteries that may retailer the vitality to be used when the solar isn’t shining.


The state officers additionally pointed to an investigation by the U.S. Division of Commerce into imports of photo voltaic panels from Southeast Asia as one thing with the potential to hinder California’s transfer towards clear vitality.

California has set a aim of getting 100% of its electrical energy from non-carbon sources by 2045, with sure benchmarks alongside the way in which together with 60% by 2030. Already the state generally exceeds that concentrate on, significantly through the day. How a lot energy comes from renewable sources varies based mostly on the time of day and yr in addition to what’s out there.

Lately the system operator stated it hit a file of getting greater than 99% of vitality from non-carbon sources round 3 p.m., although that solely lasted for a couple of minutes.

Solar energy by far makes up the most important share of renewable energy, although it peaks through the day and drops off considerably at evening when the solar goes down. The state is ramping up battery storage so solar energy can proceed for use when its darkish, however the state’s capability continues to be considerably missing.


Pacific Fuel & Electrical, which serves about 16 million folks in California, has added extra battery storage for the reason that 2020 energy outages and is engaged on applications to cut back the vitality load throughout peak demand, spokeswoman Lynsey Paolo stated in an announcement. The corporate is conserving water in reservoirs it depends on for hydropower and telling prospects how they will cut back demand, she stated. Her assertion didn’t point out Diablo Canyon, which the utility operates.

Southern California Edison, one other main utility, is working to obtain extra energy, full its personal battery storage mission and incentivize prospects to make use of much less vitality, spokesman David Tune stated.

“Southern California Edison understands how a lot our prospects rely on dependable electrical energy that’s delivered safely, particularly through the summer time months when prospects depend on electrical service for air conditioners and followers throughout prolonged warmth waves,” he stated.

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