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.
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.