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Preliminary Investigation Into Rolling Blackouts Lists Climate Change As Contributing Factor




A Valero gas station sits vacant after power was shut down as part of a statewide blackout in Santa Rosa, California.
A Valero gas station sits vacant after power was shut down as part of a statewide blackout in Santa Rosa, California.
JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

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Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to investigate rolling blackouts that occurred in California this August, a preliminary report has cited three contributing factors, one being climate change. California relies on imported power during peak demand times, which tend to occur on extremely hot days.

As the rest of the West Coast simultaneously experienced a heat wave, California was left to make do with a lower level of imported power than usual. Long-lasting heat, fires, and drought minimized the availability of other options like hydroelectric power and solar generation facilities.

Ultimately, the California Independent System Operator, which oversees the state’s bulk electric power system, transition lines, and electricity market, was forced to declare two separate emergencies on August 14 and 15 when reserves fell below minimum requirements, initiating rolling blackouts. 

The report raises questions about the state’s preparedness for extreme weather events and the timeline of its transition toward clean energy.

Today we speak with Mark Rothleder, vice president of market policy and performance for CAISO, and discuss what factors led to the rolling blackouts and how the state will address issues surrounding the its electrical grid. If you have questions about rolling blackouts and what regulatory entities are doing to further prevent them, call us at 866-893-5722.

Guests:

Mark Rothleder, vice president of market policy and performance for California Independent System Operator, one of the organizations behind the report

Sharon McNary, infrastructure correspondent at KPCC; she tweets @KPCCsharon