March 3, 2024
With California’s energy grid unable to meet demand, four emergency gas-powered generators have been called on to ease the strain on the state's power grid. California is facing a heat...

With California’s energy grid unable to meet demand, four emergency gas-powered generators have been called on to ease the strain on the state’s power grid.

California is facing a heat wave with triple-digit temperatures breaking records, according to CBS, which noted Livermore — in the Golden State’s Alameda County — set a new record Monday at 116 degrees.

“We have now entered the most intense phase of this heat wave,” said Elliot Mainzer, president and chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, according to The Sacramento Bee.

“The potential for rotating outages has increased significantly.”

He added that the grid faced “energy deficits of 2,000 to 4,000 megawatts, which is as much as 10 percent of normal electricity demand.”


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To avert that, the California Independent System Operator on Monday called on the Department of Water Resources to activate four emergency generators, according to KMPH-TV. The generators were installed in 2021, two each in the Sacramento-area cities of Roseville and Yuba City.

The generators can provide up to 120 megawatts of power through natural gas. That’s enough to power about 120,000 homes, according to a Department of Water Resources news release.

The situation facing California was described by The Sacramento Bee this way: “California’s increasing reliance on solar power and other renewable sources has made the grid susceptible to blackouts in the early evening, when solar panels go dark but the weather stays hot.”

One social media user summed it up with dark humor:

“We are on razor-thin margins,” said Siva Gunda, vice chairman of the California Energy Commission, according to the Bee.

On Monday, the California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s electricity flow, put out a statement in which Mainzer said demand reduction was essential.

“We need a reduction in energy use that is two or three times greater than what we’ve seen so far as this historic heat wave continues to intensify,” he said.


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Jack Brouwer, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of California at Irvine, told CBS in late August that the state’s energy infrastructure grid cannot provide what is being expected of it.

“The grid does not currently have the capability to add millions of battery electric or even fuel-cell electric vehicles today,” he said, according to CBS.

Ram Rajagopal, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, has said the strain EVs will place on the power grid will be devastating.

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“Let’s say we were to have a substantial number of [electric] vehicles charging at home as everybody dreams,” he said, according to a Yahoo report in May. “Today’s grid may not be able to support it. It all boils down to: Are you charging during the time solar power is on?”

Rajagopal led a study that showed that peak charging demand could more than double by 2030 if EV owners charge vehicles after work at their homes.