California scrambles to improve electric grid to avoid summer blackouts

By Martin Wisckol | The OCR Link to article

Last year’s heatwave blackouts could be repeated unless steps are taken.

State agencies and electric utilities are scrambling to shore up power supplies in hopes of avoiding the rolling blackouts that left 800,000 California homes and businesses without power during a record-breaking heatwave last August.

That means gas-fired power plants could be called on more, instead of less, at a time when the state is trying wean itself from fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases.

Already last year, state regulators extended the life of outdated gas-fired power generators in Huntington Beach, Long Beach, Redondo Beach and Oxnard, all of which had been scheduled to shut down at the end of 2020. And now, the state is considering a second extension for the Redondo Beach plant, which is currently scheduled to close at the end of this year.

Environmentalists are at odds with regulators and utilities over how to address the shifting energy landscape. But both sides agree that more needs to be done to meet clean energy goals at a time of when the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and several gas-fired plants are scheduled to close, climate change is increasing summer electricity demands, and the phasing out of gasoline cars and natural-gas buildings will boost year-round electricity needs.

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