2014: Risks to the Grid

wildfire

This summer California will be at risk for rolling blackouts and power shortages. While California has been highly successful in curbing energy demand during peak (high-usage) hours in the past, this summer’s conditions may demand more serious attention than those in previous years. Reasons include:

  • Intensified drought:
    • State officials predict reduced generation from hydro-stations
    • Necessary water supply curtailments may cause up to 1,150 MW of thermal units to shut down
    • Wildfires may force power lines out of service
  • Approaching heat:
    • Hot, often humid days which will increase A/C demand
    • Extreme weather
    • Potential for heat storms lasting several days
  • Increased electricity use as economy recovers
  • Regional concerns: the 2013 closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant may make providing power reliably more challenging this summer in both San Diego and south Orange counties.

For a more detailed report regarding the ISO's 2014 Summer Asssessment, click here.

Consequences

This summer’s energy challenges could put many Californians at risk. When electricity availability declines, so does access to A/C and other amenities that are critical to some. During the July 2006 heat wave, heat-related deaths topped 130. Elderly individuals or those with medical ailments are particularly vulnerable to high-heat days, especially during blackouts when air conditioning becomes unavailable.

Solutions

It is especially important that we work together to conserve energy this summer. In the past, California's residents and businesses have done their part to reduce their power consumption during times of especially high peak demand. This summer, businesses and individuals will need to continue to lead in energy conservation, shutting off major appliances and reducing A/C use during peak hours. Join Californians around the state to stay alert and power down.

Additional Background

Transmission Disruptions

Hot, dry conditions have already led to wildfire in Southern California and the potential for continuing wildfires is particularly high this summer. Persistent drought has led to an above-normal wildfire risk and may also increase the severity of fires that do occur. Wildfires can damage major transmission lines leading to power shortages and blackouts.

Reduced Generating Capacity

Last summer, Southern California Edison announced its decision to permanently close the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Facility, located in San Diego County. The facility previously supplied enough energy to power 1.4 million homes equivalent to over 2.2 gigawatts of energy. Conservation is a critical tool to draw down the need to supply energy from alternate sources and to prevent power shortages.