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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Rolling blackouts in the world's 5th largest economy

Uploaded: Aug 18, 2020
Is anyone besides me quite irritated that California is having rolling blackouts for the first time in 20 years.

The California Independent System Operator ordered electrical power shutout to more than two million customers served by the state’s three major utilities last Friday. That was followed by more rotating outages and that was before Sunday morning’s rare heavy thunder and lightening storms knocked out power to thousands in the Bay Area.

It's amazing that the world's 5th largest economy cannot keep the lights on.

Yes, we are in a hot spell—it’s August in California after all—and there have been some record high temperatures (although it was the soaring humidity from the storm coming up from the tropics that made it particularly uncomfortable. As I was musing to one friend, before the widespread adoption of air conditioners people in many parts of the country lived with high temperatures and high humidity every summer. When I was in Boston in August one year, I came to understand from experience the description of “the dog days of August.”

The Bay Area temperatures have not come close to those of 2006 when they soared in the mid-teens, 115 or thereabout. That spell was so hot that when temperatures fell to 100, there was relief. Heat-related deaths felled 140 Californians during that time.

What’s truly disturbing, as CalMatters reported Monday, is that the peak demand of 50,270 megawatts in 2006 did not require rolling blackouts to manage. Peak demand on Friday was 46,800. The system operator attributed the need for blackouts to two power plants being out-of-service and the heat.

Did you also notice the timing 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. The CalMatters report also noted that the state has a higher reliance on solar power than it did 14 years ago and the sun does go down. Policy established by the Legislature and Governors Brown and Newsom wants to ban all fossil fuels from the state’s power grid by 2040 or sooner. That’s led to law that requires cities to only allow electrical appliances in new homes, eliminating clean burning natural gas for heating water, drying clothes and cooking.

Natural gas also was the power of choice for the peaker plants that were built to add generating capacity for weeks just like this one. What’s going to power our homes if the state continues down this same path and leans even more on the renewable sources?

For us Northern California residents, throw in PG&E’s ancient grid, the lack of maintenance and system upgrades with the complicity of the Public Utilities Commission, the threat of wildfires ignited by PG&E equipment and you have a true mess.

Yet, you don’t hear the politicians in Sacramento expressing any second thoughts about overall policy. The governor called for an investigation into what has gone wrong. Maybe the governor and the legislators should go through the 16-hour power outage my neighborhood did Saturday night and Sunday and understand first-hand the future they’re charting for California.

Reliable power, ideally at far lower cost than we pay in California, is foundation for our economy and our lives.


We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +   16 people like this
Posted by Pamela, a resident of Alisal Elementary School,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 12:03 pm

Pamela is a registered user.

It feels like we are in a 3rd World given power outages and infrastructure decay.


 +   17 people like this
Posted by Jake Water, a resident of Birdland,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 6:18 pm

Jake Water is a registered user.

There are two interesting pieces in the American Thinker that address this issue:

Gavin Newsom admits it: Green energy mandates are driving California's blackouts: Web Link

How will the greenies explain away California? Web Link

These are worth a read. Renewables are not working, but California is going to pay for it anyway. Be fearful of the ‘Green New Deal.'


 +   18 people like this
Posted by James Michael, a resident of Val Vista,
on Aug 18, 2020 at 8:59 pm

James Michael is a registered user.

Get rid of PG&E and we'll all be in the dark soon. One party, the state, rules and everyone will be on their way to Nevada or Arizona soon. Grab you money for your house while you can...if it isn't too late already!


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Parent and Voter, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 8:12 am

Parent and Voter is a registered user.

California "leadership" keeps telling us that we are the "Best" yet when the curtain is pulled we see decaying infrastructure, absurd mandates from Sacramento, and the highest taxes in the Nation.
And apparently that nest egg that our Sacramento Leadership bragged about is gone and they want to be bailed out. It is not surprising when our State Leadership understands so little about the economy and spending wisely.
This is our long term future unless we start voting out our current Sacramento politicians. Just my opinion as a Native Californian.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by ddmom, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 8:14 am

ddmom is a registered user.

Let's just keep building more and more houses but don't worry about where the water and power is going to come from!


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Median Joe, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 8:22 am

Median Joe is a registered user.

Life in California is Good, not perfect but Good.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Jake Waters, a resident of Birdland,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:22 am

Jake Waters is a registered user.

@Parent and Voter

Well said, and let me build on your comment,"This is our long term future unless we start voting out our current Sacramento politicians." I agree, however I am not confident for an immediate solution in 10 years. As you know, a knew election for governor won't occur until November 2022, and that governor doesn't take the reigns until January 2023. If a Republican is elected (and that is the question), the Democrats have a long time to further move us down the abyss. Not the least to mention, Sacramento has to have a majority of new Republicans to support her/him. Those are big IF'S. I want to be positive, however, I'm turning 69.

It is often asked on social media in California- does anyone know of a person who has tested positive for Covid, had symptoms of Covid, or died of Covid. I don't have personal knowledge of any of those 3 questions, but I do know of at least 5 families (at present) that have or are in the process of leaving California. This year, as in last year, will see an exodus that may cause another loss of representatives in certain districts, and a loss of revenue- because 'producers' of wealth are leaving, and 'takers' of wealth are moving in. Free stuff has a powerful draw.

This ship doesn't turn around very quickly. It's to big, so my family is preparing for an exodus. Sad, because I too, to include my kids and grandchildren were born here.

We have not fully experience the financial carnage from closing down. There are more businesses that will go bankrupt and government services that will require us to bail them out: BART? A large number of the big cities in the Bay Area will continue to disintegrate, again requiring more tax relief. The culture that is vocal in this state has gone off the cliff, as if they were organized cells waiting to rise up.

Just my opinion, until the left takes that right away as well.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by dana2004, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:24 am

dana2004 is a registered user.

Beyond irritating. PG&E would never make it in any other city in America that has actual extreme weather snow storms wind storms, massive thunderstorms. We lived in Omaha for 10 years with the most extreme weather and I think I recall only one time in 10 years our power going out. Infrastructure is a core component of the ideologies of political leadership and the Bay Area has had a liberal leadership for three or four decades. The leadership style of the Democratic Party is not sustainable as clearly seen in all major liberal run cities in America: SF, Seattle, L.A, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Minneapolis. Continuing to vote the same way in California every election has taken it's toll -voting the same way over and over and expecting a different result ....well we all know how that phrase goes, that's the definition of insanity.....


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by dana2004, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:24 am

dana2004 is a registered user.

Beyond irritating. PG&E would never make it in any other city in America that has actual extreme weather snow storms wind storms, massive thunderstorms. We lived in Omaha for 10 years with the most extreme weather and I think I recall only one time in 10 years our power going out. Infrastructure is a core component of the ideologies of political leadership and the Bay Area has had a liberal leadership for three or four decades. The leadership style of the Democratic Party is not sustainable as clearly seen in all major liberal run cities in America: SF, Seattle, L.A, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Minneapolis. Continuing to vote the same way in California every election has taken it's toll -voting the same way over and over and expecting a different result ....well we all know how that phrase goes, that's the definition of insanity.....


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Rick, a resident of Danville,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 10:57 am

Rick is a registered user.

Californians are 'whistling as they pass the shut-down power plants graveyard'. CA has shut-down more than twice as much generating capacity in the last 10 years than the excess demand over the last week. CA saw its electricity prices rise six times more than the rest of the United States from 2011 to 2019, due to its huge expansion of renewables and abandonment of gas and nuclear - with more shut-downs scheduled!!!. Where has it gotten us? "Comfortably" ensconced in a third world electricity grid to match or major cities deterioration to 3rd world status (due to much more than just the power generation degeneration) all governed by a 'banana republic', one-party kakistocracy. When will CA voters finally recognize the unconscionable mess they continue to sanction because of their 'hey, let's see what happens if we vote for these neoprogressive ineptocrats???


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Barbara Costello, a resident of Highland Oaks,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:10 am

Barbara Costello is a registered user.

I moved to California from Idaho when I was 8. California at the time was governed by a Democrat, but there was a strong Republican showing in the Legislature that kept us a two party state. The California schools in the 60's were among the best in the country. I remember being surprised to learn in the 5th grade that California was the largest exporter of cattle in the world. California was truly a wonderful state to live in. Fast forward to today - homeless everywhere, and despite what politicians say, these are not "down on their luck" folks, they are addicts and they congregate in California because our laws make it easy. We forced cheap and sustainable nuclear power off the table because of the environmentalists (the same one who bring us the massive fire storms every year). And we are now a one-party state run by Progressive's who are progressing California into bankruptcy. Our AG is a Mexican nationalist who thinks California should be part of Mexico. Time to wake up folks and start voting for the other party. California could be a wonderful place to live again if we get a balance back in the politics. Democrats can't blame Trump for the mess of California. This has been in their hands for the past 25 years.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Nicki, a resident of Jensen Tract,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:38 am

Nicki is a registered user.

@ Barbara Costello BRAVA, Agree with all you say, and very well said, indeed


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Wade Liggett, a resident of Val Vista,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:12 pm

Wade Liggett is a registered user.

Hi There,

About the rolling blackout thing:

I am taking the long view that we need to get off fossil fuels to prevent global warming from going past the tipping point on the way to the atmosphere of Venus.

I think the rolling blackouts draw our attention to the continuing need to conserve energy and increase non-fossil fuel sources and availability.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Greg, a resident of Val Vista,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Greg is a registered user.

Dittos Barbara Costello. You're right on point.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 3:27 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

It is easy to criticize. It is hard to offer and implement alternative solutions. You all lose me and a lot of other Americans when you make it a Democrat vs Republican Issue. Some of the points are valid but the other side can also bring up valid points such as the fact that Republicans and Trump are subsidizing W. VA and the coal industry so they can have their votes.

Propose solutions and vote for people who propose solutions that you agree with.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Pamela, a resident of Ironwood,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 8:13 pm

Pamela is a registered user.

I'm a 4th generation Californian and have seen the Falling of Rome. Generous public entitlements and uber liberal acceptance of open drug use, asocial behavior and crimes with minimal punishment in the urban core areas have been a social experiment failure pulling all the losers here from across the Nation. Add to that increasing population due to good weather, tech company jobs and Pacific Rim economy has created a high demand for housing when resources (water, power, transportation systems) are limited and NIMBYs delay building making it more expensive so law makers also require subsidized rentals or homes along with market rate housing. Frankly, just too many people want to be here. Our solution is to do the un-thinkable and move elsewhere.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Cohoaxhannity, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School,
on Aug 19, 2020 at 11:00 pm

Cohoaxhannity is a registered user.

Tim, you make a great point until you make it completely political pulling in the Dem v. Republican angle - of course the Governors mentioned are Dems. Perhaps you cannot help yourself on that. Please, please, please, as someone who reads FoxNews, CNN, and the BBC daily, the residents of Pleasanton really aren't looking for the Pleasanton Weekly to drive divisiveness in the community. There are plenty of outlets that do that. We are looking to understand coverage of the power of local dynamics right here in the Tri-Valley. Please let other outlets drive divisiveness at the State and National level.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Wade Liggett, a resident of Val Vista,
on Aug 20, 2020 at 1:10 pm

Wade Liggett is a registered user.

I'm down with Kevin and Cohoaxhannity here.
I was taught to stick with the issue catheter than the people.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Wade Liggett, a resident of Val Vista,
on Aug 20, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Wade Liggett is a registered user.

I meant to say "rather" than the people. I work in a catheter factory. I guess I have "catheter on the brain".


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jake V, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Sep 4, 2020 at 1:16 am

Jake V is a registered user.

In our modern days, blackouts is really a cause of anxiety to many of us. But it's during this time that we can appreciate the star at night when all around us is dark.

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