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CA Heat Wave Results In First Rolling Blackouts In Nearly 2 Decades. Why? And What Are We Likely To See In The Years To Come?

Downtown skyline is seen behind high tension towers from the 4th street bridge in Los Angeles, California on August 16, 2020.
Downtown skyline is seen behind high tension towers from the 4th street bridge in Los Angeles, California on August 16, 2020.
APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images

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Gov. Gavin Newsom said that this heat wave is bringing the hottest two weeks in the past 70 years, and included a 130-degree global temperature record in Death Valley. Temporary power interruptions due to the heat occurred over the weekend and are likely to continue through Wednesday evening, Newsom said.

There is a significantly greater power demand expected in the next few days, according to Newsom.

The governor signed an emergency declaration, which includes shifts the state is looking to make when it comes to energy consumption. The state is also working with major power consumers to reduce usage, as well as working with companies to encourage the public to reduce usage. He noted that the state is working with LADWP to get more hydro-power online, among other efforts. Those efforts even include having Tesla reach out to Tesla owners when it comes to reducing the electricity use of those vehicles.

The governor said that there will be an investigation into why the state wasn't prepared for this heat wave, as well as looking into the implications for the future. He noted that weather patterns like this one are expected to keep happening in the future as well. The California Independent System Operator (Cal ISO) said that they had warned the state's Public Utilities Commission of this potential problem years ago. Today on AirTalk, we discuss the latest blackouts, why they’re happening and what residents are likely to see in the years to come as temperatures rise. Have the blackouts impacted you? Do you have questions? Join the conversation by calling 866-893-5722. 

We reached out to the California ISO and California Public Utilities Commission, but did not immediately hear back to our request for an interview.

With files from LAist. Read more here


Sharon McNary, infrastructure correspondent at KPCC; she tweets @KPCCsharon

Severin Borenstein, professor and faculty director of the Energy Institute at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, member of the California ISO Board of Governors; he tweets @BorensteinS

Katherine Blunt, reporter covering renewable energy and utilities for The Wall Street Journal; she tweets @KatherineBlunt