At Gov. Gavin Newsom’s press conference Monday, he discussed the state’s heatwave, record temperatures throughout the state, and the rolling blackouts millions have to deal with over the very hot weekend. The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) began the rolling blackouts Friday evening as temperatures stayed in the triple digits. Blackouts were ordered again Saturday evening as temperatures reached 111 degrees in Sacramento, even as Californians pay the highest energy bills in the country.
In Sacramento it hit 109 degrees Friday and 111 degrees Saturday. And notably, most businesses and event venues are closed down under the governor’s lockdown order. So the energy users in California should be using less power, not more.
However, while the governor said he is investigating the power outages this weekend, he also said Californians need to get used to it.
Which reminds me of a Sacramento guy I knew… Roger Voudouris was a one-hit-wonder whose Billboard Hot 100 in 1979 was “Get Used To It.” Terrible song, worse video, and I never bought the 8-track tape. But the message is “accept that a particular state of affairs is inevitable.”
No one likes to be told to “get used to it.” But hey – it was a Top 4 Australian hit.
Apparently, our “get used to it” is that Californians need to conserve more energy when it’s 110 degrees outside – when we need reliable power the most.
The Governor Demands Investigation into Power Outages
Gov. Newsom signed an emergency proclamation Monday which “temporarily allows some energy users and utilities to use backup energy sources to relieve pressure on the grid during peak times during the energy emergency.”
Newsom warned that energy company ratepayers and customers may lose power again this week as the triple digit temperatures “strain the state’s power grid.”
The Cal ISO issued a statewide Flex Alert, asking consumers to conserve electricity Sunday through Wednesday between the hours of 3 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Monday the California Independent System Operator says it will likely order utility companies to turn off power starting around 4 p.m. as demand for electricity to cool homes soars during the hottest part of the day beyond the power available in the grid, Associated Press reported.
Governor Newsom sent a letter to CAISO, the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission demanding an investigation into the service disruptions that occurred over the weekend and the energy agencies’ failure to predict and mitigate them. “I write today to express my deep concern about the broadscale de-energizations experienced by too many Californians on August 14 and 15th. These blackouts, which occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation’s largest and most innovative state,” Governor Newsom wrote. “Residents, communities and other governmental organizations did not receive sufficient warning that these de-energizations could occur. Collectively, energy regulators failed to anticipate this event and to take necessary actions to ensure reliable power to Californians. This cannot stand. California residents and businesses deserve better from their government.”
Monday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to free up additional energy capacity, with the West Coast heat wave projected to intensify over the coming days.
Why is the state’s power grid strained?
Earlier this month, California Globe reported that the Center for Jobs and the Economy at the California Business Roundtable announced that California gas and energy prices continued to rise higher in July than nearly all other states. “These outcomes mean that even as many households struggle under the current economic conditions, the state’s energy policies continue to take an increasing share of household incomes both directly in gasoline and utility bills and indirectly as these costs are incorporated into the prices of every other component of the costs of living,” the Center for Jobs and the Economy reported.
Just over one year ago in June 2019, California Globe reported that the Sacramento Municipal Utility District began charging Sacramento electricity users and ratepayers a new rate system that charges residential users higher rates between 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m… much higher rates, just in time to get home from work, feed the family, do a couple loads of laundry, bathe the kiddies, maybe vacuum a room or two, and watch a little Netflix.
These new summer “peak” rates appear to be about 40% – 200% higher, looking at the bill, the Globe reported.
Why are California gas and energy prices rising higher than nearly all other states? My electricity provider, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), claims that I’m using 74% more energy than I did last year at this time. Why?
California ISO CEO and President Steve Berberich said the state is short about 4,400 megawatts, which equates to about 3.3 million homes, AP reported. But why is the state 4,400 megawatts short?
As California Globe reported last year, and has been covering since 2011:
In 2011, California passed the Renewables Portfolio Standard setting the mandate at 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. When it became clear that California was nearly there, in 2015, the Legislature moved the bar again and passed SB 350 the “Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015.” SB 350 by Sen. President pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), requires the state to procure 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy and double energy efficiency savings by 2030. In 2018, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 100, setting a 100 percent clean electricity goal for the state, and issued an executive order establishing a new target to achieve carbon neutrality – both by 2045.
These mandates leave utility companies no wiggle room.
Using more renewable energy causes the entire electricity grid to be unreliable because sun and wind are intermittent and inconsistent.
Only one year after adopting SB 350, the announcement in 2016 from PG&E that it was closing Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant ironically came on the same day there were rolling blackouts in Los Angeles amid sweltering temperatures. PG&E said they planned to replace the loss of the cheap, clean nuclear energy with renewable energy.
Do California residents really need to “Get Used To It?” Lawmakers and government energy officials continue to take clean nuclear power offline, they are fighting to remove the hydroelectric power provided by the Klamath Dam, and they’ve outlawed hydraulic fracturing for recoverable oil and gas in the Monterey Shale Formation. The state ignores its vast onshore and offshore deposits, which are fully accessible through conventional and hydraulic fracturing technologies.
Read more about California’s renewable energy mandates and power shortages:
California Power Outages: Extreme Weather, Extreme Energy Shortages, or Extreme Litigation? There is no increase in summer temps, but the renewable energy mandate is being ramped up, and;
Green Power Project Jolts Citizens, for a look into the state’s renewable energy mandate of 2011, and immediate repercussions.