California is less likely to experience rolling blackouts in 2023, officials say

ByLena Howland KGO logo
Saturday, May 27, 2023
CA is less likely to experience blackouts in 2023. Here's why
California energy leaders say the state is less likely to experience rolling blackouts in 2023.

ORINDA, Calif. (KGO) -- California energy leaders say the state is less likely to experience rolling blackouts this year.

It was just last Sept. when California's power grid was stretched to its limit amid a 10-day heat wave, reaching a record high of more than 52,000 megawatts and people across the state were urged to conserve or face potential blackouts.

"Thankfully, an emergency was narrowly avoided due to our ability to call upon strategic reserve and because of millions of Californians who helped when asked to reduce the demand," Siva Gunda, vice chair of the California Energy Commission said.

Rolling blackouts last experienced back in 2020 during extreme heat, were narrowly avoided last year but this week, officials from the California Energy Commission say the state is much better prepared as we head into the summer.

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"I'm really happy today to let you all know that the summer outlook is looking much better than we anticipated," Gunda said.

With improved hydro conditions, increased capacity and 2,800 megawatts of backup contingency resources for the next extreme event, they say no electricity shortfalls are expected in 2023.

"This year, we predict no shortfalls under average conditions, this is because of the extraordinary efforts of agencies to bring online new resources and also because of better than expected hydro conditions due to the atmospheric rivers this winter which are providing a boost in the supply," he said.

Something the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the agency responsible for determining these outages, agrees with and they expect to have at least 3,000 more megawatts worth of storage supply this summer compared to last.

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"At the beginning of April, we were looking at almost two and a half times average hydro conditions, obviously putting us in a much better situation going into the summer," Neil Millar, VP of Infrastructure and Operations Planning at CAISO said.

But as the state pushes toward its goal of all new cars being electric by 2035 and hitting a milestone of selling more than 1.5 million electric vehicles statewide earlier this year, Governor Gavin Newsom says the long-term investments to the grid are coming.

"We've identified 45 projects, $7.3 billion in investments to transform our electrical grid, we laid out the markers on solar and wind but we realize that's not going to get us where we need to go and that has to be addressed," Newsom said.

But the energy commission says in California, the extremes of climate change remain a wildcard and if the state experiences another extreme weather event like last year's heat wave, the grid could still fall into "vulnerable territory."

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