The rolling blackouts affected upwards of 2 million Californians. Many of the outages took place in the afternoon, when power demand peaked as people starting turning up their air conditioning at the same time that solar power supplies started slowing down as the sun set.
The state’s three biggest utilities – Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric – cut off power to homes and businesses for roughly an hour at a time until the close of an emergency declaration, and this was followed by a second outage.
On top of that, erratic output from the state’s wind farms failed to make up the gap. Around a third of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources thanks to state law mandates, and these alternatives proved incapable of keeping up during peak power usage. In the past, utilities and grid operators in the state bought extra electricity from other states when it fell short, but the vast size of the heat wave meant that other states were also reaching their limits and had none to spare.
Governor Gavin Newsom ordered an investigation into the outages seen in the state over the weekend, vowing to uncover the cause. However, Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, who serves as the Committee on Utilities and Energy’s Vice Chair, said that the problem can be traced to California’s reduced dependence on natural gas.
Speaking to FOX26 News, he said: "I have been warning over and over again that the policies coming out of the Democrat-controlled legislature and governors' office are creating the conditions for blackouts and brownouts and here we are seeing the evidence."
Officials from the California Independent System Operator (ISO), who is in charge of managing electric flow in the state, warned last year that electricity shortages could happen during a heat wave because of the shift toward renewable but less reliable sources of energy, such as wind and solar energy.
Independent Energy Producers Association CEO Jan Smutny Jones told the Mercury News: "Some folks in the environmental community want to shut down all the gas plants. That would be a disaster."
Independent System Operator Vice President of Market Quality and State Regulatory Affairs Mark Rothleder said that energy demand tends to surge during heat waves at around 5 in the evening as people return home from work and solar power starts to wane.
Newson acknowledged the role of the transition to renewable energy in the problems the state is facing, saying there are gaps in the “reliability of power."
He said: “Our capacity for storage in particular ... substantially needs to be improved, but I am confident in our capacity to deal with that.”
A statement by the ISO said the state faced an electricity shortfall of about 1.4 gigawatts on Monday. Around 9 gigawatts of gas generation have been retired in the past five years as the state shifts to renewables, which would have been enough to power 6.8 million homes.
The lights may be off, but this is a shining example of what happens when you let liberals run a state. Is it any surprise that residents are now fleeing California in droves?
Sources for this article include: