California Sees Risk of Power Supply Shortages for Summer


California’s grid operator warned there’s a risk of rotating outages this summer if the U.S. West is hit with an extreme heat wave like the one that triggered blackouts in the state last August.

The state, however, is in a better position to handle demand due to an increase in power generation capacity, as well as policy and market-design changes made since last year, the California Independent System Operator said in a summer assessment report released Wednesday.

State officials and the grid operator have been working to shore up supplies to avoid a repeat of blackouts that plunged more than 800,000 customers into darkness for hours on two consecutive days in August. The outages were the first of their kind since the state’s energy crisis two decades ago.

“New resources are coming online by summer, and we have taken the lessons learned from last year to make modifications to our market and operations,” California ISO Chief Executive Officer Elliot Mainzer said in a statement. “This makes us cautiously optimistic that there will be enough electricity to meet demand this summer.”

The California ISO said it has added 2,000 megawatts of resources including battery storage and is looking to get an additional 1,000 to 1,500 megawatts of supplies. The state’s hydroelectric supplies will be lower than normal due to drought conditions, the grid operator said.

The state remains reliant on importing power from its neighbors, and if there is prolonged widespread hot weather, those imports could be limited and boost the odds of the need to impose rotating blackouts, according to the report.

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