Why Does California Have Rolling Blackouts?
News / Why Does California Have Rolling Blackouts?
Power outages or blackouts are more than annoyances—they have a significant impact on the economy, health, and public safety. Unfortunately, blackouts became a way of life for those of us in the Golden State in recent years, and they may continue into 2021 as well. But why does California have rolling blackouts? And can you do anything about it?
What Causes California’s Rolling Blackouts?
The state’s rotating power outages have been largely attributed to an insufficient power supply as demand peaked from extreme heat.
1. Climate Change
The unprecedented rise in temperatures during summer is an effect of climate change, a fact California’s energy planners failed to consider. This was exacerbated by the fact that they did not instruct energy providers to purchase adequate power supplies in the evening when solar panels cannot generate electricity. The state supplements its tight supply with imported power from nearby states.
2. The Move Toward Clean Energy
California faces power supply shortages as it shifts towards clean energy sources like wind and solar, closing down natural gas and nuclear power plants over the years. However, renewable sources have limitations—their energy production falls short when there is no wind or sun. The state is late in replacing lost energy, a planning oversight worsened by unexpected heat waves.
3. Avoiding Wildfires
Besides insufficient power supply, rolling blackouts are enforced for public safety. Electricity providers shut down the grid to protect power lines against destructive wildfires during hot, dry days.
Increased Power Outages
Unfortunately, California blackouts have been on the rise for the past several years.
Planned de-energization events or public safety power shut-offs are done to keep people safe against wildfires. Wildfire-related outages left over 2 million people without electricity for several days instead of hours, some for as long as six days.
In mid-August 2020, with the pandemic and economic recession in full swing, California’s Independent System Operator, the agency that manages the state’s power supply, pulled the plug on hundreds of thousands of residents in the midst of a heatwave. The blackout, which lasted for about two hours, was yet another glaring reminder of the state’s insecure power supply system. 2020 would be characterized by rolling blackouts throughout much of the state.
Power outages in California will not go away soon because of the state’s aging electricity grid, tight energy supply, and the natural threat of wildfires.
Using a Backup Battery for Blackouts
Power outages in California are unavoidable and sometimes unexpected, but you can get ready for them.
Rolling blackouts and solar energy may not always go hand in hand. During the power shutdown, traditional home solar systems shut off to prevent live electricity from flowing back into the grid, as it could be hazardous to workers repairing the power line. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem—solar batteries.
A solar battery stores excess energy from the solar panels, allowing you to have backup power as needed. It is an excellent addition to your system, especially in California, where intermittent power outages happen.
Solar Battery Usage
The average capacity of a solar battery is enough for the basics:
- Running the fridge
- Charging mobile devices
- Powering medical equipment
- Keeping the internet on
Unfortunately, battery backup cannot handle more demanding appliances like the HVAC system.
How long your battery lasts depends on its capacity and power rating. A solar battery system with higher kilowatt-hours has more capacity for energy storage. However, the power rating is the electrical load it can provide at any given time—the higher it is, the more appliances it can run simultaneously. Look for a higher capacity and suitable power rating for appliances you prioritize using.
Battery Backups with Current Home
For a more secure power backup, consider installing more than one battery to your solar energy system.
Ensure you’re always ready for power outages with a battery backup system. Get in touch with Current Home to discover the best solar energy storage solution for you.