California Reveals That the Transition to Renewable Energy Isn’t So Simple – by Alex Trembath and Zeke Hausfather ( – August 19, 2020)

The recent “heat storm” in California has pushed grid operators to impose rolling blackouts for the first time since 2001.

A combination of heavy air conditioning usage, the unplanned unavailability of some power plants, limited options for importing power from neighboring states, and insufficient solar and wind generation have led to an imbalance of electricity generation and consumption.

As Stephen Berberich, president of the California Independent System Operator, or CAISO, which oversees operation of the state’s electric grid, told Sammy Roth of the Los Angeles Times, “We thought there would be adequate power to supply the demand. … We were wrong.”

The blackouts are designed to affect customers for no more than an hour or two. Some may find that little more than mildly inconvenient. Others more prone to heat stress or in possession of medicines that require refrigeration might be more worried, with good reason.

The aggregate reaction could prove substantial, especially if we face more rounds of shortages in the coming months and years.

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