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Summer Power Supply 'Adequate' For California

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

The control room in Folsom, California for the state's power grid manager, the California Independent System Operator. The room includes an 80-foot wide system of monitors.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California's energy grid manager says summer power supply will be "adequate" for most of the state.

The Folsom-based California Independent System Operator, or CAL-ISO, manages the state's energy grid and issued its 2016 Summer Assessment Wednesday.

CAL-ISO Senior Public Information Officer Steven Greenlee says even when air conditioners are cranked up statewide, summer supply should be solid.

"What we have on hand will get us through the summer even under the most extreme scenarios that we ran," says Greenlee.

But Greenlee says natural gas shortages, due to the shutdown of the Aliso Canyon plant, may affect electricity in Southern California.

"We could see up to 14 days in Southern California, where we might have to have rotating power interruptions," he says.

Greenlee says that's more likely to happen when CAL-ISO ramps up generation to meet rising demand from air conditioners.

And Greenlee says summer use of air conditioners has been increasing in coastal areas.

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If supply is pushed, Cal-ISO puts out a statewide call with a "Flex Alert" asking people to cut back electricity use.

A Flex Alert can be issued due to high peak demand, unplanned power plant outages, fires that cause transmission line overloads, losses or limitations or humid, hot weather and heat waves.

Greenlee says wildfires are a concern for CAL-ISO because fires can "take out transmission lines."

He says improved hydroelectricity generation, after a near-normal winter in Northern California, helps meet the state's overall energy demand.

Greenlee says renewable energy sources, which includes solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biofuel and battery storage, now make up 24.6 percent, or 17,882 megawatts, of the electricity supply in California.

Greenlee said the "total portfolio mix" is 72,536 megawatts.

Greenlee says 1 megawatt will power about 750-1,000 average homes.

CAL-ISO says the 2016 Summer Assessment, developed in coordination with state energy agencies, shows:

  • Total net qualifying generation capacity available this summer is expected to be about 54,459 megawatts, a net increase of 1,951 megawatts from June 1, 2015.
  • 2016 summer peak is projected to be about 47,529 megawatts, which reflects projected modest economic growth over 2015.
  • 2015 summer peak was 47,257 megawatts set on September 10.
  • All-time summer peak was set on July 24, 2006 at 50,270 megawatts. 

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