Energy

‘Gaps’ In Renewable Energy Led To Blackouts For Millions Of Californians, Gov Newsom Says

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state’s transition away from fossil fuels is a contributing factor to the state’s rolling blackouts.

The elimination of fossil fuel products as a major form of energy production and the shift to solar power and other forms of green energy has led to what Newsom called “gaps” in the energy grid’s reliability, the Democratic governor said during a press conference Monday.

Newsom addressed the sudden loss of power many Californians experienced Saturday and Sunday during high temperatures.

“We are not backing off on that commitment,” Newsom said, referring to California’s push to transition away from oil and gas.

“In the process of the transition, in the process of shutting down, understandably, the desire and need to shut down polluting gas plants … comes the need to have more insurance, comes the need to recognize that there have been — by definition, demonstrably, in the last few days and what we expect over the next few days — gaps in terms of that reliability,” Newsom said.

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The state’s energy system operator — California Independent System Operator (CAISO) — issued a Stage 3 emergency for the first time in 20 years, per a press statement CAISO posted Friday. Many citizens were required to conserve as much energy as possible while others were subject to rotating power outages due to heavy strain on the energy grid, CNN reported Monday.

“Collectively, energy regulators failed to anticipate this event and to take necessary actions to ensure reliable power to Californians,” Newsom wrote in a letter Monday to CAISO, CNN reported. “This cannot stand.” (RELATED: Here’s How State Regulators Played A Role In California’s Rolling Blackouts, Wildfires)

CAISO attributed the blackouts to the unexpected loss of a 470 megawatt power plant, as well as a loss of nearly 1,000 megawatts from wind power. The nonprofit’s emergency order allowed utilities to use backup energy to relieve pressure on a grid that relies primarily on a mixture of wind and solar power, along with hydro power.

“Near certain we’ll be forced to ask the utilities to cut off power to millions today to balance supply and demand. Today and tomorrow and perhaps beyond,” Steve Berberich, president and CEO of CAISO, said in a statement Monday before noting that the nonprofit corporation has repeatedly warned of a reliability gap and that the state will have to increase energy production.

Newsom said Monday that the transition from fossil fuels is a “moral and ethical imperative as it relates to the kind of world we’re going to leave, the kind of state and nation we’re going to leave for our kids and grandkids.”

Sierra Club and other activists met informally with Newsom’s administration in 2019 to discuss dramatically slashing the state’s oil production, The Los Angeles Times reported in April of that year.

“I’m taking a very pragmatic look at it, in scoping this,” Newsom told The LA Times in a 2019 interview. “It’s also an inclusive scoping because it includes people in the industry, that have jobs; communities that are impacted from an environmental justice prism but also from an economic justice prism.”

California has 72,000 oil wells and the oil industry supports 368,000 jobs in the Golden State, according to the Western States Petroleum Association.

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