California Grid Strained As Power Shortfalls Loom

California Grid Strained As Power Shortfalls Loom 1

Amid another heat wave across the Western half of the US, California issued a stage-2 power-grid emergency alert Friday and urged customers to conserve power as temperatures surpassed 100 degrees, according to The Sacramento Bee

The state’s grid operator, California Independent System Operator (ISO), issued the alert on Friday, which is one step away from rolling blackouts. 

Readers may recall, as early as Tuesday, we outlined how “scorching temperatures return to the West, persisting through mid-week, and reappear this weekend.” By Friday, we gave the full breakdown of the second heat wave and its impact for the next several days, affecting upwards of 28 million people from California to Washington State. 

Excessive heat warnings have already been posted for California, Nevada, western Arizona, and western Utah. Watches have also been posted for interior portions of Oregon and southern Idaho.

By late Friday, ISO discontinued the emergency, but with multiple 100-degree-plus days forecasted for Saturday and Sunday for Californians, the power grid operator may have to reissue grid alerts. 

Large swaths of the West could experience temperatures 20 or more degrees above average. Below is a temperature anomalies forecast showing the heat dome could last through mid-next week

For those who are curious what “stage 2” means, power consumption is exceptionally high in the state, and the grid has become “reserve deficient,” allowing grid operators to resupply the grid with generators. If supply doesn’t meet demand, the next stage would be rolling blackouts to prevent the grid from collapse. The alert was the first in 2021 and was last declared in August 2020. 

Making matters worse is a wildfire raging in southern Oregon and may threaten transmission lines bringing power into California. 

The wildfire prompted California Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue an emergency proclamation to free up additional energy supplies.

“The fire will continue to move unchecked in all directions, with unstable air conditions and extremely dry fuels,” the U.S. Forest Service said in their latest update. 

The ISO told The Sacramento Bee that the wildfire “reduced import capability over the California-Oregon Intertie,” which runs across transmission lines threatened by the fire.

“Following the issue of its warning, the ISO has been requesting additional energy from its neighbors,” the ISO said.

California officials are bracing for a challenging summer as multiple heat waves continue to plague the region, resulting in what could be another dangerous fire season

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