On Friday, officials said extreme weather conditions due to climate change were putting additional strain on the state’s already taxed energy network, with heat, severe forest fires and prolonged drought increasing the risk of power outages for Californians.
Officials said in an online briefing that they were preparing for a scenario that would reduce California’s energy needs by about 1,700 megawatts by 2022. The fact that the shortage occurs most of the summer after sunset deprives energy suppliers of solar energy.
According to the California Energy Commission, one megawatt is enough electricity to power an average of 1,000 California homes. In poor conditions, the state may be deprived of the energy needed to power more than a million homes.
The situation could worsen if the heat wave causes residents to turn to air conditioners for comfort, increasing energy demand.
“If all this happened there, there is a real potential for outages, and we need to be prepared for that,” said Mark Rothleder, senior vice president of the California Independent System Operator, which helps maintain the state’s power grid.
Extreme weather conditions and fire damage to the network could result in an additional 5,000 megawatt shortages.
Authorities have also warned of higher electricity bills for Californians as providers reduce increased natural gas costs, increased transmission costs and the risk of forest fires.
According to the presentation, electricity bills for the average customer of Pacific Gas & Electric, California’s largest utility company, will increase by 9% to $ 211 by 2025. This means an average increase of 12 percent from 2019 to this year.
California officials are taking steps to reduce the worst effects of climate change on the energy grid. At a briefing on Friday by Governor Gavin Newsom’s office, officials said the government has stepped up energy-saving efforts, increased energy supplies and revised its forecasts to take into account the changing climate.
The state is also increasing its investment in renewable energy, which helps meet demand without contributing to the strained conditions in California’s energy network.
“Over the past few summers, we’ve had to rely on emergency measures,” said Alice Reynolds, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “But at the same time, the network is getting cleaner and cleaner.”