Gridwatch 2022: California goes dark

Rolling blackouts were implemented in some areas of the Golden State last night, as California set a new record for electricity demand.

The state’s power grid operator, the California ISO, announced a new record demand yesterday of 52,061 MW, smashing the old record from 2006 of 50,270 MW. The grid operator managed to keep the lights on for most of the state, with only three smaller Bay-area cities having to resort to rolling blackouts. Only few thousand customers were impacted.

One of the three cities affected was Palo Alto, home to the prestigious Stanford University. The state has extended the power emergency into an eighth day, with alerts set for this evening:

California ISO is estimating peak demand today at 51,211 MW, with total capacity on the system believed to be close to 55,000 MW, leaving little room for error or unexpected problems.

California ISO raised the alert level to Energy Emergency Alert Level 1 late this morning. It raised it further to Level 2 this afternoon. If they issue a Level 3 alert, as they did yesterday, it will be to warn of imminent rolling blackouts, such as those that were implemented last night.

How California got itself into such a dire predicament is a long story and one outlined by Michael Shellenberger here, the last time this happened in 2020.

Unfortunately, Minnesota has tied its fortunes to the sinking ship of California energy policy. Minnesota adopted “California” standards for automobile emissions. California has recently banned the future sale of non-electric cars, despite having too little electricity capacity to charge such vehicles.