Blackouts put spotlight on California’s energy supply problems


A rainbow colors the sky near power lines south of Desert Hot Springs, March 23, 2020.

One hallmark of an advanced society is a reliable supply of electrical energy for residential, commercial and industrial consumers.

Uncertainty that power will be there when we need it it undermines social cohesion and economic progress — as demonstrated by the travails of poor nations with erratic energy supplies.

California got a small dose of that syndrome in mid-August when a record heat wave struck the state and utilities were ordered to impose rolling blackouts to protect the grid from melting down under heavy air conditioning demands.

Gov. Gavin Newsom quickly demanded that the three overseers of electrical service to most of the state — the Public Utilities Commission, the Energy Commission and the California Independent Service Operator — explain what went wrong.

“These blackouts, which occurred without prior warning or enough time for preparation, are unacceptable and unbefitting of the nation’s largest and most innovative state,” Newsom wrote. “This cannot stand. California residents and businesses deserve better from their government.”



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