California grid operators worried about summer power supply


Photo by Jacob Aere

Above: Transmission lines crossing Pine Valley, June 21, 2021.

California power managers can’t say for sure that there will be enough electricity available this summer to keep lights on and air conditioners running.

They are already exploring options if demand begins to exceed supply.

Last summer was brutal for California electricity providers. Five times they had to ask the public for emergency conservation in an attempt to keep the lights on.

Calls for conservation have twice failed and San Diego has faced ongoing power outages.

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The power grid operator has cut power to blocks of homes and businesses in San Diego to prevent the power grid from collapsing. It was the first time this had happened since 2001.

Governor Gavin Newsom declared a thermal emergency to free up energy resources, but that was not enough to keep electricity flowing for everyone.

A prolonged heatwave in the West and electricity reserves that could not be delivered are the cause.

The image of food also seems fragile this year.

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“We have seen that some of the resources we have purchased have encountered supply chain issues,” said Elliot Mainzer, a senior official at the Independent System Operator of California, the public agency that manages the power grid of the state.

Forest fires, drought and widespread heat only make matters worse. If any or all of these things happen, the energy situation in California could reach a critical stage.

“We still import about a quarter of our electricity from out of state,” Mainzer said. “So when we get hot in the Pacific Northwest, the southwest, and the west between the mountains simultaneously, the amount of electricity in California for imports can be stressed.”

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Reported by Erik Anderson

San Diego gas and power officials have taken steps to avoid blackouts this summer and fall. The utility purchased more backup power and added battery storage.

SDG&E is also hoping the curation will keep things from getting worse compared to last summer.

“Last August, our customers really came forward and saved energy. So customers make a big difference when our network is strained, ”said Caroline Winn, CEO of SDG & E.

But that might not be enough to support the power grid.

Winn admits things could be fine in that region, but if other regions have power issues, San Diego will likely feel the effects as well.


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Erik Anderson

Environmental journalist

opening quotesclosing quotesI focus on the environment and all the implications that a changing or difficult environment has for life in Southern California. This includes climate change, endangered species, habitat, urbanization, pollution and many more.

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