California Battery Boom Didn’t Come Fast Enough to Beat the Heat
(Bloomberg) -- Big batteries intended to save California from blackouts haven’t been added in time to stave off the threat of outages as the state struggles to meet power demand during this year’s first major heat wave.
That leaves the Golden State again dependent on conservation pleas to ease demand for tight electricity supplies amid soaring temperatures, an approach that fell short during the hot weather that forced rolling outages in August.
Now the most populous state and its $3.1 trillion economy are facing renewed prospects for more shutdowns even after officials spent winter and spring working to prevent a repeat of those blackouts, the first in two decades.
Efforts included power companies installing large batteries to store solar power during the day and feed it back into the grid after the sun begins to set. California also delayed planned retirements of several old, natural gas-fired power plants along the coast and tweaked electricity market rules to encourage more imports during periods of high demand.
The state now estimates that about 2,000 megawatts of battery capacity -- roughly equivalent to the output of two typical nuclear reactors -- should be operating by August, and some progress has already been made. During peak demand hours on Wednesday evening, for example, batteries supplied the grid with about 600 megawatts, according to data from the state’s grid operator.
The California Independent System Operator forecasts power demand Thursday will peak at more than 43,000 megawatts.
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