Here’s why power problems plague states with extreme weather

California

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Californians are no strangers to power problems. 

Last summer, millions of people here were left in the dark when extreme heat forced Cal-ISO to order rolling blackouts in order to save energy.  

A deep freeze, deep in the heart of Texas now has nearly three million people in the Lone Star State in the dark and frozen. 

Blame for the outages are now being placed on the state’s power grid operator ERCOT.

“Part of it is the result of gas production in Texas cutting back,” Severin Borenstein said.

Just months ago, California was in the midst of a similar scene. 

Instead of extreme cold, it was excessive heat the caused the state’s power grid to melt under the demand causing a rolling blackout for the first time in decades.  

“The biggest takeaway is that climate change is having very unpredictable effects on electricity demand,” Borenstein said.

Severin Borenstein is a professor at UC Berkeley Energy Institute at Haas.

He says in both instances, California and Texas saw peak demands for energy, at times never seen before. 

“Part of the lesson is that there is no normal anymore. We have to start planning for more and more abnormal weather,” Borenstein said.

The planning he says starts with making sure that states have enough energy on hand. 

Texas he says doesn’t have a plan in place but California does. It’s mostly centered around fossil fuels. 

“This doesn’t mean we can’t have a stable system with a lot of wind and solar but we have to do it differently,” Borenstein said.

Another solution he says would be improving transmission lines which would allow states to sell power when needed. 

It’s a problem for Texas which is cut off from the national power grid — He says would have made it easier to get power into the states.

On Twitter, secretary of energy nominee and former UC Berkeley energy professor Jennifer Granholm said that America’s electricity grid is simply not able to handle extreme weather events.

Going on to say we need to upgrade our grid infrastructure asap — Borenstein agrees. 

“But we are going to have to make a lot more investment in the infrastructure in order to maintain reliability and a cleaner grid,” Borenstein said.

Paying customers, or finding other incentives for customers to try and reduce energy consumption as much as possible.

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