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California Dodges Power Crisis This Summer Despite Heat, Drought


Despite this week’s mid-September heat wave and the drought limiting power supply, it looks like California could finish the summer without a single heat-related flex alert.

A flex alert is when Californians are asked to conserve energy to avoid brownouts – usually on really hot days. The independent operator of California’s power grid, Cal ISO, hasn’t called any this year.

In fact, despite above-average temperatures and a drop in available electricity due to the drought, Mother Nature has actually taken it easy on California.

“Under heavy use and hot temperatures, things break. We haven’t had that so much this year, because it has been hot during the days but it’s been cooling down overnight,” says Cal ISO’s Steven Greenlee.

He says the drought has cost California nearly a quarter of its available hydroelectricity. “We see it on our end; it just is a little bit less of a resource that we do like using. However, it hasn’t impacted reliability at any kind of degree at all.”

This week’s Southern California heat wave has prompted the highest peak electricity usage of the year.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio