Climate Change Led To California’s Rolling Blackouts

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Originally published on Nexus Media News

California energy officials said extreme heat fueled by climate change, and poor planning, led to the state’s rolling blackouts in mid-August. The preliminary “root cause analysis,” released Tuesday by the state’s three central energy agencies, acknowledged they failed to adequately plan for the extreme “heat storm” that shattered temperature records across the American West.

The extreme heat drove up energy demand and limited California’s ability to buy electricity from neighboring states. Extreme heat and heat waves are made worse by global warming. Numerous studies definitively identify human activity as a driver of those changes.

The analysis also says extreme heat played a role in forcing 1,400 MW to 2,000 MW of gas-fired electricity generation offline at the time of the rolling blackouts. Officials have repeatedly stressed that California’s efforts to increase its use of renewable energy did not cause the blackouts. They have called for increasing renewable energy and battery storage investments in their aftermath. (LA Times $, New York Times $, San Francisco ChronicleKCRA Sacramento Sacramento BeeAPReutersPolitico Pro $; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heat wavesAugust 2020 California heat wave)

Featured image: smoke over California, courtesy NASA.


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