More than a million Californians suffered power blackouts last Friday evening. When high temperatures caused customer demand to exceed the power available, California electrical utilities used rotating outages to force a reduction in demand. The California grid is the worst in the nation, with green energy policies pursued by the state likely furthering reduced grid reliability.
At 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s biggest utility, began shutting off power in rolling outages to force a reduction in demand. Southern California Edison also denied power to homes, beginning just before 7 p.m. Shutoffs impacted a rotating group of up to 2 million customers until 11 p.m.
The California Independent System Operator declared a Stage Three Electrical Emergency, the first such emergency since 2001. Spot electricity prices soared to more than $1,000 per megawatt-hour, more than 10 times the usual price.
In 2018, 19% of California’s electricity came from rooftop and utility-scale solar installations, the highest percentage in the nation. But by 6:30 p.m. each day, that solar output approaches zero. The state lacks enough reliable electricity generation capacity to run everyone’s air conditioner during hot summer evenings.