Ten million in California risk going dark in massive rolling blackouts

As many as 10 million people across California may take turns being plunged into blackouts on Monday evening as the state’s grid operator works to keep the region’s power system from collapsing under the strain of one of the worst heat waves in years.

Apple Park
Apple Park‘s gigantic solar roof in Cupertino, California

Bloomberg News:

The outages, which were expected to hit as soon as 4 p.m. in California, would mark the third time in four days that the state’s utilities deliberately cut power to protect a grid that’s been pushed to the brink of failure as people blast their air conditioners and fans to keep cool. The state is facing an electricity shortfall on Monday of about 4.4 gigawatts, according to California Governor Gavin Newsom. That’s the equivalent of about four nuclear power plants.

“Let me just make this crystal clear: We failed to predict and plan these shortages — and that’s simply unacceptable,” said Newsom, who called for an investigation into why officials failed to anticipate the need for blackouts.

Rarely if ever have 3.3 million homes and businesses across California, or roughly 10 million people based on the average size of a household, been affected by a planned shutdown of this kind… Part of the problem is California’s rapid shift away from natural gas. About 9 gigawatts of gas generation, enough to power 6.8 million homes, have been retired over the past five years as the state turns increasingly to renewables, according to BloombergNEF. That leaves fewer options when the sun sets and solar production wanes.

According to the National Weather Service, Los Angeles International Airport hit a daily record of 93 degrees, breaking a previous high of 85 set in 1994. Death Valley reached 130 degrees for the first time since 1913.

MacDailyNews Take: Good luck to everyone in California during these rolling blackouts! Of note, Gov. Gavin Newsom has today signed a proclamation allowing the use of stationary and portable electric generators. Full Proclamation of a State of Emergency here.

62 Comments

  1. Here in sorta LA, I just got email warnings about possible blackouts. At least they told us, but they state that it’s supposed to be in 1-hour increments. I can live with that – not happy – but not the end of the world….yet.

    1. It’s a new week in California everyone. New fires, new,blackouts, Tyrannical politicians threatening to turn your water and power off if you have guests in your home, people being motivated to snitch on their neighbors if they’re not wearing masks, new tax proposals including one to add a 4% tax on your net worth if you just happen to be rich, and the stupid Socialist State Legislature is shutting down UBER, LYFT, and much of the gig economy because their heads are stuck up their asses back in the 19th century somewhere. They’ve allready put thousands of freelance writers out of work.

      If that’s not enough they’re looking to raise commercial real estate taxes because, well THEY’RE FUCKING IDIOTS. It’s gotten so bad that even the LA Times admits they’re going to shut down mom and pop businesses like your neighborhood cleaners, pizza joint, and hardware store.

      This is California baby, progressive jewell in the crown. Enemy of small, medium, and large businesses alike. Friend to illegal immigration. Keep your eye on her. This is what a BIDEN/HARRIS America looks like.

      1. screw you and your twisted politics.

        in CA, dry lightning has sparked fires and the government is working to put them out.

        in WA-DC, the pathetic potus has tried to gut the post office, a key Constitutional office, so that it doesn’t work. why? to disenfranchise voters alike a tin pot dictator would try to do. The People entrusted this man to defend the Constitution and he is doing the EXACT OPPOSITE.

        What more information do you need to fire an employee ? Voters need to hire someone who at least has basic honesty and empathy.

        1. This forum is really becoming increasily unreadable because of a few select people. The story is about a record heat wave. Which, is linked to climate change. But not only is there no mention of climate change, the onus is out on the retiring of fossil fuel plants. And then to top it off, the poster above you is trying to link the issue to Biden? It’s an electric grid/climate change issue. Stop trying to make it about the election you are so scared won’t go your candidates way.

          1. Solar plants run better on sunny cloudless days. The problem isn’t on the generation side of the equation, but on the consumption side. When nearly 40 million people insist on setting their thermostats at 70 when the outside temperature is up to 130, there is simply not going to be enough power available. Complicating the issue is that lots of people these days are stuck at home with inefficient small coolers, rather than at work or in shops with larger, more efficient units.

            Blaming the government for bad citizen behavior seems to be rampant these days. Witness the maskless unwashed people crowding into bars and then being shocked—shocked I say—when there is a virus outbreak.

            1. Did citizen behavior make us number one in poverty and homelessness? Did citizen behavior make us the worst rated state in the union for business over and over? Did citizen behavior initiate the exodus from California of the wealthiest and most productive people will emphasizing the import of more poor people to care for? Did citizen behavior make us the highest taxed state in the union where governance seems to be literally defined as “invent new taxes?” Did citizen behavior make it so the State dragged it’s feet until there are hundreds of millions of acres of dead trees they can’t figure out how to clear?

              I’d have to say yes. Year after year after year. We vote Democrat down the line. We voted for it. Now we wallow in it.

              It is a fortunate time for people to learn.

            2. “Solar plants run better on sunny cloudless days”. Usually a true statement EXCEPT the other day the Mojave had a lot of cloud cover – not unusual when we get hot humid weather from the South. So solar was below projected, and wind power was also below projected….. and the brilliant central planners left us with no spare plants to bring online to make up the shortage. This what DEMOCRACY looks like.

          2. Another lemming screaming the farce of “climate change”. Take a look back into history and you’ll discover that heat waves are common. “But…But… they are getting worse these days ’cause ‘climate change!!!” TO that I’ll scream into your ignorant ears… BULLLLLLLLL***TTTTTTT!!!!!!

            1. The 1913 temperature reading is almost certainly wrong. Besides which, climate and weather are not the same thing. What has changed over the past century is the probability of previously possible but unlikely events. There is simply no way to deny that without getting into flat earth territory.

          3. They were selling excess power to other states. Where did that excess go . Hot is hot. Enjoy your cramped hot homes you can even go outside with out your government mandated pacifier.

          4. Because the paid trolls that MDN supports are desperate.

            They attempt to paint Biden as somehow more senile than their heros Reagan and Orange Con Man when it’s plain that youthful vigor and mental capacity was never a consideration in their last 80+ years of candidates for president.

            Moreover, if Biden was incapable of leading, that is precisely why the Constitution provides for a vice presidency. The blue team has by far the better educated and more capable leader, as opposed to the red team religious zealot.

            Harris, by the way, is a law&order candidate who led a proscecutor office of over 1000 lawyers. The red team offers a reality TV con man who inherited his wealth and a butt licking sidekick who was a radio show host.

            No wonder the red team is desperately attacking anyone who proposes rational nonpartisan thoughts.

      2. Here’s Why California Can’t Keep The Power on During a Heat Wave

        “As hot as it was Friday, the demand for electricity peaked at just 46,800 megawatts — a few thousand megawatts shy of the record 50,270 in July 2006, when Californians were literally dying in the heat but blackouts were avoided.”

        Since demand was less than what was seen in July 2006, and no blackouts were needed then, why do we need them now? Newsom knows the answer – the stupid energy policies that he and Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown before him enacted – but instead promised an “investigation,” likely headed by a blue-ribbon panel, since he’s fond of such committees.

        Why can’t California generate enough power for its needs or even the same amount of power the state generated in 2006?

        California got rid of fossil fuel and nuclear plants in favor of wind and solar plants – even though those sources are unreliable – before ensuring that such plants could meet the demand. One wind plant was unable to generate power Saturday because… drum roll… there wasn’t any wind. And the state’s solar plants don’t store the power generated during the day so they’re unable to contribute to capacity when it’s dark.

        Enjoy your Dem/Lib/Prog-created crisis, California. You voted for it – and the deaths that will, guaranteed, ensue from Dem/Lib/Prog lunacy.

        Think about that before you run out to vote for the Biden-AOC “Green New Deal” fiasco, if you’re still around to vote by then, geniuses.

        Meantime, the moronic CA guv, Newson, has bequeathed you the permission to fire up gas and diesel generators, so you can make you own electricity and likely add more exhaust into the atmosphere than your illogical “green power” foolishness claims to have avoided.

        Cali deserves its fate. It voted for it.

  2. You can try and do the correct thing too quickly as our state of California has in terms of generating power and suddenly find yourself caught short. To not have easily anticipated the kind of heat scenario and power demand cycle that’s been part of California forever and now getting worse thanks to climate change is pretty unforgivable. What kind of dumb clucks are running this operation anyway?

      1. Yes under Jerry Brown the Dems had tried to move to greener energy sources and it sounds like a good laudable idea but then you also have to still account for the entire power scenario and the periods of greatest power draw and have the resources to draw from it. Normally they’d draw from other states at peak periods but most western states are suffering similarly.

        I mean Republicans would probably still approve coal-burning if they could but obviously that’s not a good idea.

  3. The heat over the weekend was really unusual. Near San Francisco we even had a large group of thunderstorms last night. That hasn’t happened in decades.

    It is a good idea to get rid of natural gas. We are building a new home near here that will be all electric, no gas. We’ll have about 6kW of solar on the roof and a 13 kWhr battery to tide us over in case of blackouts.

    I’ll blame PG&E for this. They have seen this trend coming for years. They could have worked with homeowners who were adding solar power by adding regional battery storage where there was lots of solar power. It would be easier for them to maintain a battery for each block of a hundred or so homes instead of relying on each homeowner to build in this infrastructure.

    California now requires new homes to have solar cells on the roof where practical, but this doesn’t solve the problem of time-shifting the collected power.

          1. Gas is cheaper than coal almost everywhere, but in many regions hydro and solar and wind are the cheapest choices for future energy production. You should know that. You should know that America doesn’t have good gas distribution in all regions. The USA wouldn’t have rural electrification at all if it wasn’t for those evil socialists who passed taxes to pay for it.

            Now, just as your iPhone miniaturizes the old mainframes, you can make electricity without a huge utility.

            First Solar (based in AZ) sells photovoltaic installations that produce electricity that costs an average of less than $0.04 per kwh over the life of the installation. Obviously your location may vary. Go to their website for all the data. I am not going to do your homework for you to prove what is undeniable reality.

            What do you pay for your electricity ?

            1. How much of that was subsidized to keep prices low?

              Look, I’m not at all against solar or wind or ocean currents or geothermal or cow farts, whatever they can harness and learn to bring to market at the scale required, whether personal (home), industrial or grid.

              HOWEVER, until this power can be used without government subsidies to manufacture then our backbone should be nuclear, natural gas and coal.

              As far as your socialist remark, and like all good liberals, you have no idea how Conservatives think so therefor all tax money is for Socialist causes. Grow the fuck up.

              Now ask yourself this, Mr. Learn Ed.
              -How much power is wasted in home from use of 120 VAC when much of it’s usage is immediately transformed to lower voltage AC or DC voltage? Besides A/C, dryer, stove and water heater and possibly TV, how much of your home could run on lower voltage?

              What I am trying to explain, Mr. Ed is that power is wasted AFTER its used in even the most energy efficient homes. This is where the next frontier of energy efficiency needs to be applied.

              Now your moment of Zen
              https://azsolarcenter.org/federal-tax-incentives

            2. I know you used to work on towers, TowerTone, but your comment makes no sense. A given appliance draws exactly the same amount of power to do the same amount of work no matter what voltage the house wiring carries. The only possible savings from lower voltage would be heat loss in the step down transformers. That hasn’t persuaded most of the world to use a standard voltage twice the US norm.

            3. TXer
              It makes no sense becasue you are out of your comfort zone and Google hasn’t explained it well enough to you.

              Let me explain a simple aspect, high AC current is used mainly for distribution even though there is great loss it is still more efficient than DC or lower voltages.

              Once you start creating electricity for you home you have no need for the higher voltages for transmission including most 120 VAC use.

              Also the storage issue is always needed to be converted to DC and then back to AC creating even more loss.

              Eventually when power cells are perfected (meaning cheaper than transmission lines for household/small businesses) then a new standard will need to be used to gain every bit of usability out of those systems.

              A DC bus along with an AC circuit will be able to power most of a house with much less loss to heat (which can actually be captured for heating water and warming the house in cooler months). Think of how autos use this system and it should help to envision a similar system for homes.

          2. towertone nobody is arguing against a mix of power sources including gas. the failures have been on the grid. this is not a partisan issue so stop trying to make it one

    1. Let’s do a bit of simple math. A typical oven consumes up to 6 KW in your range and you are consuming another 4-5 KW. You are already double your solar panel load. The typical cost to run these at 12 cents (avg national electric cost) it cost you about a buck to make your meal. So how many meals would you have to really on your $6000 to $12,000 dollar, heavily subsidized solar array? Oh yeah, divide your 6KW by more than half to account for nights and cloudy days. At a dollar a meal times three meals a day you would have your first ‘free’ lunch in about 2,000 to 4,000 days or 5.48 to 11 years! Eliminate the subsidies and you could add another couple of years to get that free lunch. Bert you’d love to drive that Tesla too! How many subsidies in that one? Here’s another little math problem – the estimate is that electricity to your outlet is about 10% of the available BTUs at the power plant – that includes transportation costs, generation inefficiencies, and line losses. So before you ever plug in your electric vehicle, you already consumed 90% of the power. Now add in efficiency losses for the tire to road interface, motor friction, and work. Damn, I’d bet you are down to 5% efficiency. One last story, worked a project at the US Air Force Academy. They installed a large solar array for a mere $19M. Annual utility savings? $500K. Rounding a bit, that is a 40 year pay back. Is this a wise use of your tax dollars? Oh yeah, they had to build a series of gas generators to handle power drops when clouds passed over head.

      1. analysis by someone who pretends to know nothing about energy storage.

        hint: your iphone doesn’t have to be connected to a gas fired power plant at all times to function. what a miracle of modern tech!

        so the same people who come here to extoll the glory of expensive Apple tech bitch endlessly that renewable energy should never ever ever ever replace 1920s era energy production tech. they tell everyone to buy $1xxx + Macs and iPhones but that municipalities should only buy IBM mainframes… so much cheaper for the end user, don’t you see????

        if you want America to ever be great again, it won’t be possible clinging to aging obsolete infrastructure.

  4. Flaky electricity, abysmal postal service and insufficient water pressure to wash the president’s hair. What has become of America? Other countries had these issues sorted a hundred years ago.

  5. Renewables have nothing to do with this. It’s just bad planning. Here, in Quebec we are working with 100% renewable energy (hydro). No issues, even in the coldest times in winter.

        1. Quite apart from the French/English split in Quebec, something over 2% of the population are indigenous and 9% are visible minorities. Besides which, what difference does it make? Are you under the impression that black and white Californians have dramatically different views on renewable energy?

    1. Paul, the problems in California have absolutely nothing to do with energy supply. The problem, which affects other regions all over the hot climates of the planet, is the creaky old electric distribution grid. Towertone’s transformers cannot handle the heat. The forest fires. The aged design. Don’t pretend infrastructure in your state is an A+ grade either. It just so happens CA is the canary in the coal mine. Bad planning and investment in infrastructure and modernization of US utilities and transportation is a problem coast to coast. Nobody, dem or rep, wants to pay the costs needed to make it world class. The USA is watching as Chyyyyyna installs all new modern infrastructure as America infrastructure ages.

      If you own an Apple laptop and have ever used it for more than web surfing and email, you know very well what overheated systems are. Let me guess, you are going to blame that on the political tendencies of Jony Ives’ utra thin design team. Does this make sense in your world?

      For the record, distributed electricity production (on site solar and wind) would actually improve the grid’s problems. Adding gas power plants would not.

      1. I have Transformers? Like in the movies??

        I don’t think you understood what I was laying out is a system a couple of decades away, and yes it will be able to handle a modest size family’s needs.

        Your description of the electrical system is correct to a point but not about gas plants.
        Electricity is sold from grid to grid depending on the needs and availability. Local production is always better and there is no reason to NOT add solar, wind, geothermal or whatever but the backbone for quite a while will be fossil fuels no matter how efficient others means become. It’s like saying we’re going to switch to electric cars in one year….no, not even if every American was given one there is still not the backbone to charge them anymore than there is the capability to add other technologies to create enough power for long term needs. Developing it is good, relying on it is stupid and short-sighted.

        When you talk about investment into power grids and no one wanting to invest in them yet they will invest billions into pet projects that may eventually lead to success which makes them political points. Maybe if people weren’t so mislead about fossil fuels, manmade global warming and new WONDER technologies (that sometimes become slush funds…) then the politicians could have their feet held to the fire to do what is right. But that won’t happen with the media and the left driving this power nonsense anymore than race relations will ever be a thing of the past as long as the same people use it for political points.

        NOW you know….the REST of the story.
        Good day!!

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