Newsletter: How solar panels on farmland could help California fix its water and power crises

Sammy Roth | Los Angeles Times Link to article

This is the July 8, 2021, edition of Boiling Point, a weekly newsletter about climate change and the environment in California and the American West.

To the extent most Californians are thinking about energy right now, they’re probably wondering whether the lights will stay on during the next heat wave.

It’s a reasonable fear, especially after the state’s power grid operator issued an urgent call for electricity supplies last week and warned of possible shortfalls this summer. The California Independent System Operator is seeking bids from power plants that can fire up after sundown, when solar panels stop generating but air conditioners keep humming.

Why the newfound urgency? State officials wrote that California’s ability to produce hydropower could be reduced by as much as 1,000 megawatts this summer as reservoir levels fall due to drought. At least 300 megawatts of gas-fired power won’t be available either due to “unforeseen circumstances.” And a few hundred megawatts of new energy resources that were expected to be ready to go by Aug. 1 — mostly lithium-ion batteries — could be “delayed by one to several months,” officials wrote.

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