Tuesday, February 20

California says it needs more power to keep the lights on

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California energy officials on Friday said issued a sober forecast for the state’s electrical grid, saying it lacks sufficient capacity to keep the lights on this summer and beyond if heatwaves, wildfires or other extreme events take their toll.

The state forecast a shortfall of 1,700 megawatts this year, a number that could go as high as 5,000 MW if the grid is taxed by multiple challenges that reduce available power while sending demand soaring, state officials said during an online briefing with reporters.

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In 2025, the state will still have a capacity shortfall of about 1,800 MW, officials from the California Energy Commission, Public Utilities Commission, California Independent System Operator and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said.

California’s electricity planning has been challenged as devastating wildfires have cut off transmission lines and extreme heat events and drought have hampered hydropower supplies. Officials said traditional electricity demand forecasting does not account for such extreme events prompted by a changing climate.

At the same time, many solar farms and energy storage projects the state has commissioned over the last two years were delayed due to supply chain challenges during the pandemic and a recent federal trade probe into solar imports.

“We are in a place now where we have to factor in a new landscape in terms of the challenge in front of us with bringing the projects that we need online,” Karen Douglas, an adviser to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, said during the briefing. (Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)