The heat wave hits the California power grid in a state of emergency
California’s power outage alarm
At about 3 p.m. ET Wednesday, the California Independent Grid System Operator issued a Level 1 energy emergency alert. The warning means a power shortage is expected in the state.
It’s the biggest test California’s grid has faced since the summer of 2020. In the summer of 2020, parts of California were forced to experience rolling blackouts due to power shortages.
California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an emergency proclamation calling for the release of additional power, warning: “The reality is that we live in extreme times — extreme heat, extreme drought.”
Under Newsom’s order, California temporarily easesgasEnvironmental regulations limit power plants, allowing them to run at full speed during heatwaves. California also allows businesses to use backup generators instead of drawing power from the grid, and allows ships in the state’s busy ports to generate their own electricity when docked.
California grid operator Caiso expects a potential shortfall of 3 gigawatts each night from Sept. 4 to Sept. 6.
Heat and drought cause power shortages
This summer, California nearly suffered its worst drought in 1,200 years, with river and reservoir water levels dangerously low. This has had a major impact on the state. About 10 percent of the state’s electricity comes from hydroelectric dams, and it has been actively shutting down natural gas plants in recent years.
Unusually high temperatures this year have caused local electricity demand in California to skyrocket. Local temperatures soared to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time on Wednesday. Local officials have asked residents to conserve electricity and expect the local heatwave to continue for a week.
Electricity demand in California is expected to increase next week, surpassing 480 gigawatts on Monday and Tuesday, which would be the highest demand since 2017, according to Caiso.
Officials expect a shortage of power contract reserves starting Wednesday night during some of the tightest periods of power supply. Contract reserves refer to excess power supply that is used as a backup to prevent power outages.
“We’re seeing some uncertainty in supply during the evening hours of the day, so we’re asking consumers to help stabilize the grid by saving electricity,” said Caiso spokeswoman Anne Gonzales.