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Why California struggles to meet energy demand amid extreme heat weather events

Three agencies wrote a report on how California could prepare its energy grid systems after the state experienced power outages during extreme heat events.
Credit: ABC10
The city of Rocklin looks to cut ties with PG&E who owns the power lines in their area.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California residents faced rotating power outages in August because the state's power grids were not prepared to meet the energy demands during extreme heat caused by climate change, according to a report

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and California Energy Commission (CEC) wrote an analysis outlining plans to decrease power outages during extreme weather events at the request of Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The three agencies citied three reasons why the state experienced rotating power outages in August. It includes the following: 

  • An extreme heat storm spread throughout the country's western region that was brought on by climate change, which led to Californians to rely on electricity. Currently, there are not enough resources to meet this demand.
  • Utility companies couldn't keep up to customers' demands due to transitioning into green energy.
  • Customers' practices the day before also created challenges as well.

CEC Chair David Hochschild said in a news release that the report is a guide to strengthen California's electric grid.

“The CEC is committed to continuing to work closely with our sister agencies to build a more resilient and reliable grid and keep pace with rapidly accelerating climate impacts our state is experiencing while also ensuring clean and affordable energy for all Californians,” Hochschild said.

The report says California must update its resources and planning for weather events resulting from climate change and transition to electricity resources with green energy during critical hours.

CAISO President Elliot Mainzer said in a news release the analysis is a step in understanding the rotating power outages in August. 

“We are committed to working with the Governor’s office, state agencies, and the broad set of stakeholders in California and across the Western US to accelerate our efforts to reliably decarbonize the electricity grid,” Mainzer said.

CPUC President Marybel Batjer in a news release called the extreme heat storm a once in a 35-year event that is becoming more frequent. 

“We will absolutely adjust our planning, procurement, and market policies to meet these changing circumstances and ensure our energy future is clean, reliable, and affordable for all Californians,” Batjer said.

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