California residents are still braced for rolling blackouts this week as a late-summer heat wave grips the west coast and puts a power grid made fragile by renewables in jeopardy of failure. Electric car owners now might not be able to drive the high-priced vehicles Democrats demanded they buy.
On Tuesday, state officials said California faces its greatest threat of blackouts this year, with power demand likely to eclipse 51,000 megawatts setting a new high.
“As people crank up their air conditioners, the state forecasted record levels of energy use, said Elliot Mainzer, president of California Independent System Operators, which runs the state’s electrical grid,” the Associated Press reported. “The state has additional energy capacity at the moment ‘but blackouts, rolling, rotating outages are a possibility,’ Mainzer said, calling additional conservation ‘absolutely essential.'”
About 52 million people across the western U.S. were placed under a heat advisory Tuesday morning, according to Axios. Temperatures are expected to reach 125 degrees Fahrenheit in Death Valley and 115 degrees in the California capital of Sacramento.
The warnings Tuesday come after residents survived the continual heat wave over the holiday weekend when utility providers pled with electric car owners to refrain from charging their battery-powered vehicles.
“The top three conservation actions are to set thermostats to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using large appliances and charging electric vehicles, and turn off unnecessary lights,” read an Aug. 30 heat bulletin from the California Independent System Operator, also known as Caiso.
State officials, including Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom, have urged residents to conserve power.
“Californians should set their thermostat to 78 degrees or higher, avoid using major appliances and turn off unnecessary lights, unless it is unsafe for them to do so,” a Newsom press release read last week, careful to strip the state utility company’s language on electric vehicles out of the same recommendations from one day prior.
Newsom omitted the line on electric vehicles offered by state utility regulators last week for good reason. Just one week before the state’s latest heat wave put stress on an aging system increasingly dependent on unreliable renewables, the California Air Resources Board issued new regulations to ban gasoline-powered car sales by 2035. The announcement came with a celebration from Newsom, who called the restrictions “one of the most significant steps to the elimination of the tailpipe as we know it,” in an interview with the New York Times.
California’s power grid, however, already unable to withstand pre-existing conditions at times of high demand, is unprepared to power millions more electric vehicles on the road. The state will require 17 more gigawatts of added electricity to keep residents able to charge their electric cars, which, according to Kelly Blue Book in December, come at an average cost of more than $56,000 per vehicle. The nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon, which is the state’s largest single source of electricity, only produces 2.3 gigawatts. Last week, the state legislature approved a five-year extension for the plant to continue operating until 2030.
Meanwhile, when people are denied air conditioning during extreme heat, the consequences can be fatal. Nearly 3,900 deaths were recorded from heat exposure between 2010 and 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Despite the routine threats of blackouts faced by the nearly 40 million people in California, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm held up the state as a model for the country.
“California is in the lead, can show the rest of the nation how it is done,” Granholm told a local Fox affiliate in an interview published Saturday.
“Just like Joe Biden, California’s leaders are unplugged from reality,” Larry Behrens, the communications director for the energy non-profit Power the Future, told The Federalist. “Apparently, forcing struggling families to buy expensive electric vehicles and then telling them when they can charge them is the green utopia Gavin Newsom really wanted.”
The Biden administration, meanwhile, remains focused on shutting down the American oil and gas industry without the expansion of domestic mining operations to harvest the raw materials needed for electric car production. New oil and gas leases, according to the Wall Street Journal, have nearly come to a halt.
“When Energy Secretary Granholm says California ‘can show the rest of the nation how it’s done,’ every family should be worried because we see California’s failures and want to do the exact opposite,” Behrens said.