California Faces High Risk of Electricity Blackouts on Labor Day

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 25: San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom holds a power cable before tes
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California faces a high risk rolling blackouts on Labor Day amid a heat wave and record levels of electricity demand that the grid cannot meet, thanks in part to a rush to renewable energy and the phasing out of fossil fuels and nuclear power in recent years.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) issued a new “Flex Alert” for Monday in which it expanded the hours in which it is asking consumers to avoid using major appliances and charging electric vehicles, and to set thermostats at 78 degrees.

The “Flex Alerts” for the previous five days have run from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.; the new Flex Alert will extend until 10:00 p.m.

In a statement, CAISO said: “Power grid conditions are expected to be strained this evening, with a potential for supply shortfalls. However, Monday and Tuesday are still projected to be the most challenging days yet, with the highest temperatures forecast on Tuesday and projected electricity demand of 50,099 megawatts (MW) … Several generators are already out of service, making supplies tighter.”

The San Francisco Chronicle reported:

Demand peaked above 44,000 megawatts Sunday but is projected to rise sharply on Labor Day as the worst of the heat arrives. It is projected to peak at 48,867 megawatts Monday and 50,099 megawatts Tuesday — which would be close to an all-time high and reflects both the continuing heat and the fact that Californians tend to use more power on weekdays than weekends. Demand could top 49,000 megawatts Wednesday and remain high through most of the week.

To put that in perspective, California has exceeded 50,000 megawatts of demand only twice in the past 20 years. The all-time record was 50,270 on July 24, 2006. California’s demand reached 50,116 one day in 2017.

Officials said the grid is expected to go through various states of emergency Monday, even if rolling blackouts are ultimately averted — and a key goal is keeping demand lower than forecast. An early stage of emergency alert has already been called for Monday from 5 to 10 p.m.; that early stage alert was also in effect Sunday from 5 to 8 p.m.

The Flex Alerts have drawn nationwide attention because they come just days after state authorities finalized regulations to require California drivers to buy electric vehicles by 2035. The fear is that the state will not allow you to charge the car if forces you to buy.

The state suffered a similar crisis in 2020, when a natural gas plant was offline during a heat wave and solar and wind power failed to meet peak demand, causing blackouts. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told Californians to “sober up” about the prospects of renewable energy, but then launched his electric vehicle mandate policy just weeks later, as if the blackouts had never happened.

It is estimated that shifting the passenger vehicle fleet to electric vehicles would increase electricity demand by an additional 30%.

Temperatures are expected to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Los Angeles; 83 degrees in San Francisco; and 110 degrees in Fresno. The heat wave is expected to last until Thursday, with temperatures 10 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for this time of year.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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