SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTLX) — Last summer for the first time in nearly two decades, California did not have enough power to meet demand, leading to blackouts for hundreds of thousands across the state.
Now, that concern is coming back around this summer.
“It was rough for all of us in the house,” said Nick McLain.
In August of 2020, a stage three power emergency by California’s power operator meant periods of no power for McLain and his family in Woodland.
McLain says his father relies on electricity for his medical needs.
“Not just for my father-in-law, needing certain medical equipment, there’s plenty of people in the town, in the state, that need to have that accessibility to electricity,” McLain said.
California’s Independent System Operator on Friday will meet to try and answer a very specific question: How to get enough power for the state this summer.
The concern for state power officials is that there will inevitably be many more hot stretches this summer. The drought also means less water-produced power, and like last year, they might not be able to get extra juice from neighboring states because they are dealing with the same issues.
“This is embarrassing, frankly,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.
Patterson is the vice chair of the Assembly’s Utility and Energy Commission. He says the state’s power woes should have been figured out long ago.
“The solution here is a desperate last-minute effort, and it is going to drive up the cost of electricity in this summertime. And it’s going to drive down the reliability of our grid,” Patterson said.
“There is no question that the plan these utilities play by is to borrow when it’s needed, rather than to generate enough so you can be self-sustaining. And that’s what we really need to do is to have a sustainable electric grid and we don’t need to be dependent on power from elsewhere, but because we are not prepared that’s what happens,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog.
The time of day that is of concern for power operators this summer is peak usage time between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. — The same time when Flex Alerts are issued.