Climate change is putting a strain on California’s energy system, officials say
The scorching heat, wildfires, and prolonged drought are exposing California residents to a greater risk of power outages, officials said Friday, as the extreme climate-driven climate puts further stress on the state’s already taxed energy grid. .
Officials said in an online briefing that they were preparing for a scenario in 2022 that would see California fail to meet energy demand of approximately 1,700 megawatts. The deficit is more likely to occur in the summer after dark, depriving energy suppliers of solar energy.
One megawatt is enough electrical capacity to power 1,000 average California homes, according to the California Energy Commission. Under precarious conditions, the state may not have the amount of energy it needs to power more than a million homes.
The situation could worsen if a heat wave forces residents to turn to air conditioners en masse for comfort, increasing energy demand.
“If all of these things happen there, there is a real potential for outages and we need to be prepared for that,” said Mark Rothleder, senior vice president of the California Independent System Operator, which helps maintain the state’s power grid.
Extreme weather conditions and fire damage to the grid could result in a shortage of an additional 5,000 megawatts.
Officials also warned of higher electricity bills for Californians, as suppliers cover rising natural gas costs, rising transmission costs, and mitigating bushfire risk.
Electricity bills for the average customer of Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility, will rise 9% by 2025, to $ 211, according to the presentation. This is in addition to a 12% increase in the average bill from 2019 to this year.
California officials are taking steps to alleviate the worst effects of climate change on the energy grid. In the Friday briefing, provided by the Gov. Gavin Newsom, officials said the state has stepped up energy conservation efforts, stepped up energy supplies, and revised its forecasts to take climate change into account.
The state is also ramping up its investments in renewable energy, which help meet demand without contributing to conditions that are straining California’s energy grid.
“In recent summers we have had to rely on emergency measures,” said Alice Reynolds, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “But at the same time, the network is getting cleaner.”