Gov. Newsom demands investigation after rolling blackouts

Gov. Newsom demands investigation after rolling blackouts

Taylor Martinez

California’s governor is demanding an investigation into the rolling blackouts that were implemented over the weekend during an intense heat wave, his office announced Monday.

Energy shortages led to California Independent System Operator (CAISO) issuing a Stage 3 emergency for the first time in 20 years on Friday and Saturday. Heavy strain on the power grid meant that customers were asked to conserve as much energy as possible and some were subjected to rotating power outages.

“These blackouts, which occurred without warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation’s largest and most innovative state,” Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote in a letter to CAISO, the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission.

Newsom said he found out about the blackouts just “moments” before they started. Operators of electrical grids were “caught flat footed, unable to avert disruptive blackouts and to adequately warn the public.”

“Collectively, energy regulators failed to anticipate this event and to take necessary actions to ensure reliable power to Californians,” Newsom wrote. “This cannot stand.”

When CAISO issued Saturday’s Stage 3 emergency, it cited the loss of a 470 megawatt power plant and a loss of nearly 1,000 megawatts from wind power.

California and other states were under an extreme heat warning over the weekend, and Newsom on Monday declared a state of emergency, citing “widespread temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees throughout the state.” The heat is forecast to continue for days.

The emergency measure frees up energy by allowing utilities to use backup energy sources to relieve pressure on the power grid.

Newsom asked the three organizations to provide updated forecasts for energy demand for the coming days and for any projected gaps between supply and demand.

Cooling centers are available in communities throughout the state, but capacity is limited due to social distancing protocols. Those who have tested positive for coronavirus or are exhibiting symptoms are not allowed.

CAISO is a non-profit corporation that manages the flow of electricity generated and transmitted by its member utilities across the electrical grid that serves 80% of California and a small part of Nevada.

CAISO urged Californians to lower energy use during peak hours, between 3 and 10 p.m. The company suggested ways to save energy like turning off unnecessary lights, closing your drapes, using fans, and if your health permits setting the thermostat to 78 degrees.

CNN has reached out to CAISO, the state’s Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, and other utilities for comment.


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