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California says it needs more power to keep the lights on

Commodities May 06, 2022 06:51PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Power lines are shown as California consumers prepare for more possible outages following weekend outages to reduce system strain during a brutal heat wave amid the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Carlsbad, California, U.S., Augu 2/2

By Nichola Groom

(Reuters) - California energy officials on Friday issued a sober forecast for the state's electrical grid, saying it lacks sufficient capacity to keep the lights on this summer and beyond if heatwaves, wildfires or other extreme events take their toll.

The update from leaders from three state agencies and the office of Governor Gavin Newsom comes in response to a string of challenges with the ambitious transition away from fossil fuels, including rolling blackouts during a summer heat wave in 2020.

California has among the most aggressive climate change policies in the world, including a goal of producing all of its electricity from carbon-free sources by 2045.

In an online briefing with reporters, the officials forecast a potential shortfall of 1,700 megawatts this year, a number that could go as high as 5,000 MW if the grid is taxed by multiple challenges that reduce available power while sending demand soaring, state officials said during an online briefing with reporters.

Supply gaps along those lines could leave between 1 million and 4 million people without power. Outages will only happen under extreme conditions, officials cautioned, and will depend in part on the success of conservation measures.

In 2025, the state will still have a capacity shortfall of about 1,800 MW, according to officials from the California Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, California Independent System Operator and Newsom's office. They also projected annual electricity rate increases of between 4% and 9% between now and 2025.

California's electricity planning has been challenged as devastating wildfires have cut off transmission lines and extreme heat events and drought have hampered hydropower supplies. Officials said traditional electricity demand forecasting does not account for such extreme events prompted by a changing climate.

At the same time, many solar farms and energy storage projects the state has commissioned over the last two years were delayed due to supply chain challenges during the pandemic and a recent federal trade probe into solar imports.

"We are in a place now where we have to factor in a new landscape in terms of the challenge in front of us with bringing the projects that we need online," Karen Douglas, an adviser to Newsom, said during the briefing.

The announcement, which came a week after Newsom said the state was open to keeping its remaining nuclear power plant running to maintain reliability, appeared to lay the groundwork for an effort to keep older facilities -- some of which are powered by natural gas -- online.

"We need to make sure that the we have sufficient new resources in place and operational before we let some of these retirements go," said Mark Rothleder, chief operating officer at the California ISO grid operator. "Otherwise we are putting ourselves potentially at risk of having insufficient capacity."

California says it needs more power to keep the lights on
 

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Comments (12)
Kelly Mayer
Kelly Mayer May 08, 2022 12:24AM ET
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Next gen nuclear reactors and mini reactors are the future.
Kevin Kirchman
Kevin Kirchman May 07, 2022 3:16PM ET
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But the weather events are not extreme, but common historically. What they are saying is that they cannot provide enough electricity under expected, basically normal conditions. They are blaming their incompetent lawmaking on the weather--in advance!
Alan Rice
Alan Rice May 07, 2022 2:28PM ET
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Waste (in the 20th Century): Want in the 21st.
Forex Harbingers
ForexHarbingers May 07, 2022 12:40AM ET
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Something tells me this has more to do with inept leadership than any of the reason this article tried to list.
Alan Rice
Alan Rice May 07, 2022 12:40AM ET
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It is always easier to blame "inept leadership" than OURSELVES.
El Cu
El Cu May 06, 2022 8:09PM ET
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kill more power plant (coal, nuclear hydro,etc) and goes wind and solar power plant... think green is good, but... could not even have enough energy to light up the streets and I can't imagine after everyone goes Ev (no more new gasoline car can purchase soon) and what will happen next... 🤔
Meru Pet
Meru Pet May 06, 2022 7:23PM ET
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just make a law and decide that there is electricity. electricity is a social construct and we can decide that it's here
Michael Galassini
RoyHobbs May 06, 2022 7:15PM ET
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CA is priceless.....force green energy agenda and then figure out they don't have enough power to keep the lights on.
John Falcone
John Falcone May 06, 2022 5:01PM ET
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The most stupid state in the union
Wayne Cammack
Wayne Cammack May 06, 2022 4:43PM ET
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Real good time to go green. Won’t have enough power to light the doorbell. Thanks
Millennial Stacker
Millennial Stacker May 06, 2022 4:41PM ET
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Electric cars are so dumb
 
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