Santa Cruz Co. removed from watch list, power outages 'very likely' through Wednesday, Newsom says

Five other counties were also added to the coronavirus county watch list

ByAlix Martichoux and Melanie Woodrow KGO logo
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Santa Cruz Co. removed from watch list, Newsom says
In a Monday press conference, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Santa Cruz County was taken off the COVID-19 watch list and five other counties were added. He also said power outages and intermittent blackouts are "very likely" through Wednesday amid the heat wave.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the state's oppressive heat wave and revealed updates to the coronavirus county watch list in his Monday press conference.

The COVID-19 watch list was finally unfrozen after a weeks-long data backlog, the governor announced.

Five counties have been added to the list since July 25, when the data glitch prompted the list to be frozen: Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Mendocino and Sierra counties.

Santa Cruz county was removed from the list on Aug. 14. Newsom added that San Diego County is also expected to be removed from the list as soon as Tuesday.

WATCH LIST: 42 California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

As the state endures a record-breaking heat wave, the power grid is about 4,400 megawatts short of the energy needed to provide uninterrupted power service, Newsom said Monday. Despite several state actions to respond to the urgent shortage, Newsom said California will "very likely" experience intermittent outages through Wednesday evening.

"Let me just make this crystal clear: We failed to predict and plan for these shortages and that is unacceptable," Newsom said.

HEAT WAVE: Here's when the heat wave will be over in the San Francisco Bay Area

Since Friday, the governor said the state has taken the following actions to reduce energy usage:

  1. Newsom signed an "emergency proclamation to free up energy capacity" and therefore reduce the need for rolling blackouts. The move allows "energy users and utilities to use backup energy sources to relieve pressure on the grid during peak times during the energy emergency."
  2. Large energy users are shifting to back-up power between peak hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  3. Utilities are going to use power they have stored for PSPS
  4. Working with ports to reduce consumption from the grid while ships are at port
  5. Working with major consumers to reduce energy usage

"Even with all of that, we are likely to fall short," Newsom said. "I am not pleased with what's happened. I take a backseat to no one."

Another thing working against California in this energy shortage: light winds. While low winds are a good thing for containing wildfires, it also means less wind energy is being produced right now.

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