California grid officials issue reliability warning as heat wave persists

By Wes Venteicher | 07/11/2024 06:21 AM EDT

The state’s grid manager restricted maintenance, declared a transmission emergency and turned on emergency gas plants.

SACRAMENTO, California — California’s grid operator said Wednesday that the extended heat wave gripping the West is increasingly straining power supplies.

What happened: The California Independent System Operator issued a “heat bulletin” Wednesday in anticipation of temperatures rising as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Palm Springs and up to 113 degrees in other parts of the state through Friday, noting that the sustained heat raises the risk that power plants — natural gas-fired ones in particular — will fail due to the strain on their operations.

“High temperatures and elevated electric demands have required a lot of the CAISO generation fleet to run at high rates of output for days on end,” Cristy Sanada, a CAISO regulatory affairs manager, told the California Energy Commission on Wednesday during a presentation on the state’s emergency reserves.


Why it matters: The early-season strain on the grid demonstrates the increasing difficulty of maintaining energy reliability amid the uncertainties of climate change, but also showcases the progress California has made in preparing for high-heat events since the rolling blackouts of 2020.